CNN came under fire for asking Democrats about television host Ellen DeGeneres’ friendship with former President George W. Bush while ignoring issues like climate change for the entire three-hour debate Tuesday.
“Last week, Ellen Degeneres was criticized after she and former President George W. Bush were seen laughing together at a football game. Ellen defended their friendship, saying, ‘We’re all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s OK, that we’re all different,’” moderator Anderson Cooper asked the candidates toward the end of the debate. “So in that spirit, we’d like you to tell us about a friendship that you’ve had that would surprise us and what impacts it’s had on you and your beliefs.”
Candidates listed Republicans like the late former Arizona Sen. John McCain, and staunch Republican lawmakers like Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz.
Candidates complain about question:
Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro blasted the moderators for asking about Ellen instead of about climate change, immigration, or housing.
“Climate change is an existential threat. America has a housing crisis. Children are still in cages at our border,” he tweeted. “But you know, Ellen.”
California Sen. Kamala Harris also complained about the lack of questions about the climate, immigration, and LGBTQ rights.
“These issues are too important to ignore,” she wrote.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who ran a climate-focused campaign before dropping out earlier this year, also highlighted that there was “not one single question about the climate crisis.”
“This is the existential crisis of our time,” he wrote. “Not one single question, and that’s completely inexcusable.”
Castro accuses CNN of ‘journalistic malpractice’:
After the debate wrapped up, Castro told MSNBC that the debate questions amounted to “journalistic malpractice.”
“I challenge CNN and The New York Times to ask, finally ask, about homelessness and housing,” he said. “I tried to insert a little bit about that in some of my answers. But we talked about Ellen [DeGeneres] at the end. I know what the point of the question was, but we keep leaving some of these huge issues that impact families off of the question agenda at these debates.”
Castro also said the debate was too focused on health care policy.
“I think every family is focused on whether they have good health care or how they can get it,” he said. “I also think that they’re focused on the fact that a lot of people can’t pay the rent, right? And so there are these sort of issues that are never touched on that intimately affect families every single day, that we just never get.”