Nonsense Ellen DeGeneres Question Derails an Otherwise Substantive Democratic Debate (Column)

  • Variety
The fourth Democratic debate was dangerously close to being substantive. For almost three (3!) hours, the twelve (12!) candidates onstage tackled questions on foreign policy, reproductive rights, health care, gun control, big tech, and the opioid crisis. While the other debates — and indeed, the entire 2016 presidential campaign — have been marked by meme-able moments and gaffes, the one co-hosted tonight by CNN and “The New York Times” largely featured candidates who know where they stand and what they wanted to say in order to distinguish themselves from the crowd. For every confusing diversion or stumble, there were far more answers with some actual meat to them. It was, to be frank, a surprising deviation from the norm, which has so often seen moderators and candidates alike fighting to create the splashiest moments possible.

And then, with 15 minutes to go, co-moderator Anderson Cooper turned to the final, most ridiculous question of the evening: “Last week,
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