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On Sunday November 10 and Monday November 11, Tom Steyer and Joe Biden had CNN townhalls. Why?

No explanation was given as to why these candidates deserved their own townhalls whereas other candidates didn’t. Nor did CNN just issue disclaimers to the effect that Steyer and Biden’s new super pac had just bought the airtime. The lack of any explanation of these on the face of it strange townhalls gave the impression of media bias towards Joe Biden, with Tom Steyer providing Biden and his super pac with some billionaire company.

In fact, Biden’s townhall was an exercise in cringingly blatant obsequiousness to Biden and equally blatant unrealistically positive spin by the pundit class. Preliminary softball questions about veterans’ issues (as November 11 was Veterans Day) were followed by what looked like a pre-meditated, artificial attempt to make Biden look good (‘Presidential’), or at least better than he had looked in debates thus far. Yet even in this bogus contrived setting, deliberately set up as propaganda for Biden, he was almost as rambling and unconvincing as he usually is.

First of all, he repeatedly got in Erin Burnett’s personal space in an aggressive way. This in itself shows how out of touch he is with modern life and politics.

He was forced to walk-back an initially confident sounding answer to a question about the need for US troops overseas when Erin Burnett posed an innocuous follow-up question about which countries he would pull troops back from first.

He was given free reign to discuss the impeachment issue and his son Hunter’s tangential involvement in it (working for an energy company in Ukraine whilst apparently having no competency to do so, getting paid $50,000 per month). Biden said Hunter had done nothing wrong and alleged that Trump was obfuscating - trying to distract attention from his own potential criminal activity concerning Ukraine.

He claimed that the impeachment process was a duty of congress, despite months of Nancy Pelosi claiming that impeachment proceedings would only happen if they would benefit the Democratic Party in 2020. Looks like after Nancy decided that the public Dem policy regarding impeachment should be one of principle rather than self-interest, Pelosi and Biden (on self-interested grounds, now that Biden has a super pac) are going public with the view that the duty of congress is paramount, regardless of the repercussions for their power as politicians. That is disingenuous on their part.

A particularly staged looking question came from a woman whose girlfriend had suffered a serious health issue which was now a financial struggle. The question was conspicuously not about what Biden’s policies on healthcare are, but what values informed his policies. This gave Biden free range to ramble on about personal loss in vague terms (which was reinforced later when Erin gave Joe the opportunity to tell his personal story about loss). Are people supposed to vote for Joe Biden for President because he’s suffered personal loss?

Relatedly, an alleged Bernie supporter asked why Joe was not in favor of Medicare for all, given that all industrialized countries except America provide health care free at point of service as a human right. Joe proceeded to misrepresent Bernie’s plan, suggesting that it would cost $32 trillion (“34, 40” Joe threw in for good measure) over ten years but not mentioning that under the current system costs would be roughly double that. Biden also repeated his false claim that Bernie’s plan would throw people off their current health insurance, failing to mention that Bernie’s plan gives people more freedom regarding their choice of doctor, not less.

This whole town hall looked like a corporate attempt to resuscitate Biden’s failing campaign. The wider unreported context of the townhall concerned the fact that a US backed military coup had just happened in Bolivia, in which democratically elected socialist president Evo Morales was removed. CNN was silent, despite years of complaining about merely possible Russian hacking of the US election in 2016.