The John Fetterman campaign had tried to set the expectations for the debate yesterday rather low. But now that the debate is over, and Fetterman proved to be as incoherent as any honest person suspected and Dasha Burns pointed out, the campaign is looking for someone to blame.
Initially, Team Fetterman tried praising their candidate for his performance. Here’s what his campaign manager tweeted just after the debate.
So proud of @JohnFetterman who stood up tonight to do something incredibly hard under the best of circumstances, but did it only 5 months into his recovery. What we saw was a brave fighter going to bat for every Pennsylvanian who's been knocked down and tried to get back up.
And his communications director talked to reporters afterward, but you can see where the seeds of excuse and complaint are being planted.
“We are thrilled with John’s performance. He did remarkably well tonight – especially when you consider that he’s still recovering from a stroke and was working off of delayed captions filled with errors,” Fetterman communications director Joe Calvello told reporters.”
“John won countless exchanges, counter-punched aggressively, and pushed back on Oz’s cruelty and attacks,” Calvello said.”
Okay, I know the campaign guys are going to defend their candidate. But no one who watched the debate will buy the excuse that slow captions caused answers like this. And it wasn’t Dr. Oz who asked this question, either – it was the moderators (both who did remarkably well) who pressed Fetterman for an explanation on his fracking flip-flop.
Fortunately, Nexstar Media Group, who provided the dual screen closed captions system that were used for the debate, as the “auditory processing disorder” accommodation for John Fetterman, was having none of the excuses or the blame. If Team Fetterman is upset with the technology, then the campaign should have availed themselves of their practice opportunities.
Nexstar’s Chief Communications Officer Gary Weitman said in a statement: “It is unfortunate that Mr. Fetterman is now criticizing the closed captioning process employed by Nexstar during tonight’s debate. Both candidates agreed to the technical set-up for the closed captioning process weeks ago, which was implemented at the request of the Fetterman campaign.”
“Both candidates were offered the opportunity for two full rehearsals with the same equipment used in tonight’s debate; Mr. Fetterman chose to do only one,” Weitman said in the statement. “In fact, Nexstar’s production team went to extraordinary lengths to ensure the effectiveness of the closed captioning process, and to accommodate several last-minute requests of the Fetterman campaign. The closed captioning process functioned as expected during rehearsal and again during tonight’s debate. We regret that Mr. Fetterman and his campaign feel otherwise.”
And thus we have the ongoing problem with John Fetterman as a candidate. He is either completely fine with only a need for minor accommodations like closed captioning, or he needs many more significant accommodations because his stroke recovery is not nearly as complete as the campaign insists.
The problem is, even the media blue checks on Twitter had to acknowledge that Fetterman’s debate performance was “painful” to watch and would not convince the voters that this man would be capable of being a senator, even as they watered down the responsibilities of a senator.
Now that John Fetterman has been fully exposed as a man who desperately needs more time and therapy to keep recovering from his stroke, what does the mainstream press do? They had such high hopes of taking this Senate seat with a leftist radical who had already managed to win statewide office. Well, they might be throwing in the towel right now.
Fetterman largely quit going to council meetings altogether. He began effectively using his nonprofit, Braddock Redux — bankrolled in part by his family — as his own shadow government to try to implement his vision of a revitalized Rust Belt community of artists and other urban homesteaders. Over Fetterman’s 13-year tenure as mayor, the private group helped launch a “Free Store” that gives away donated goods, affordable housing for artists and a youth-oriented community center. Many residents of the majority Black town of 1,700 embraced Fetterman; he was reelected three times. And his nonprofit work helped foster the folk-hero narrative that later propelled him to lieutenant governor and now, Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate.”
But some in Braddock viewed the White mayor working through a nonprofit with an all-White board as circumventing public debate and input from the town’s democratically elected representatives. Instead of trying to reform what he saw as a broken government, Fetterman worked around it.”
“You’ve got to learn how to work with people who don’t like you,” said Chardaé Jones, a Braddock native who was appointed by the council to succeed Fetterman as interim mayor in 2019 when he became lieutenant governor. “That’s part of being in government.”
This account of the unusual private charity at the center of Fetterman’s record as mayor is based on a Washington Post examination of tax returns and other records and interviews with more than a dozen residents and current and former city officials.”
The nonprofit offers a window into his mixed legacy in Braddock, one of the poorest communities in the state, where some of his signature projects are struggling to sustain funding.”
How CONVENIENT that the Washington Post was just quietly sitting on a story like this. How long do you think they would have waited to publish it if the debate had gone better than expected???
“He used the nonprofit and his personal brand to push things forward,” said Tina Doose, whose 16 years on the council overlapped with Fetterman’s tenure. “He elevated the role of mayor which made some people furious because it was not traditional or typical. He was okay with that, with people being against him.”
As the leader of Braddock Redux, Fetterman could make decisions privately with two or three fellow board members instead of hashing issues out at public meetings. Fetterman also is not required to publicly disclose the donors who have contributed more than $6.5 million to Braddock Redux between 2007 and 2020. Fetterman’s campaign declined to offer a detailed accounting of donors to the group, which has faced cost overruns and tax liens, and since his departure in 2018, steep declines in fundraising.”
So, Fetterman used his non-profit in order to remake Braddock in the image he wanted it to fit, with no accountability to anyone, and didn’t have to disclose who was giving him the millions to do it? And then used his history in Braddock to launch the rest of his political career? And the Washington Post had this story, just sitting around, and then just HAPPENED to drop it the day after the debate disaster?
And the blue checks wonder why no one trusts the mainstream media. It’s a mystery, Charlie Brown!
All that needs to happen now is the first official poll to be released post-debate, and the race between Fetterman and Oz – which was already a statistical tie and considered a “toss up” – could be over. I say “could” because early voting has already started in Pennsylvania via absentee and mail-in ballots. I wonder how many of those voters bothered watching the debate last night. I wonder how many ballots have already been cast. I wonder how many voters are regretting their vote right now.
Democrats bought this ticket, and now they have to take the ride. Let’s just hope that the rest of Pennsylvania, and the Senate, doesn’t have to get on the ride with them.