Election 2016

David Gregory Beclowns Himself With Awful Performance Moderating Elizabeth Warren-Scott Brown Debate

The "Meet the Press" host focused on controversy rather than issues and set off a Twitter firestorm.

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Monday night’s Elizabeth Warren/Scott Brown debate turned out to be memorable. Not so much because of what the candidates said, but because of the bad reviews of the debate moderater, David Gregory. The NBC “Meet the Press” host used the badgering style of that show on both candidates, inserting himself heatedly into a hectic discussion that seemed to center on media talking points and playing “gotcha” rather than substantive issues. Viewers were neither amused nor informed.

Gregory got off to a bad start, opening the evening with a question about Warren’s supposed Native American heritage, which was exactly the same question that opened the first debate. The utterly unenlightening discussion went on for a full ten minutes.

As he lobbed patronizing, irrelevant questions at both candidates, Twitter erupted into furyon both sides of the political aisle.

Some criticized Gregory for being a sub-standard journalist. Others felt he was coming off as too liberal-leaning. Still others voiced disgust at his perceived “bromance” with Scott Brown. The demeanor of Gregory at times, and even more so, Scott Brown, who seemed to mock Warren's academic standing, telling her that he was not "a student in her classroom", undoubtedly reminded some viewers of Adam Davidson’s revolting behavior towards Warren during a "Planet Money" interview of the then-TARP watchdog, behavior that earned him a reprimand from NPR.

As the debate went on, Warren appeared to gain the upper hand. Brown frequently appeared irritable and seemed to be at pains to paint himself as a moderate, when his real political leanings are decidedly to the right, as Warren pointed out when she reminded voters of his refusal to consider raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires. Brown inadvertently let the cat out of the bag himself one point in the evening, naming the ultra-conservative Antonin Scalia when asked about his Supreme Court favorite – a position he quickly walked backed as the Massachusetts crowd booed by rattling off several other names, including Sotomayor. “That’s the beauty of being independent,” he said. Wait – isn’t Brown a Republican?  (Warren named Elena Kagan).

The next debate between Warren and Brown is scheduled for October 10.

Lynn Parramore is an author and cultural theorist. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.