Video: Should a debate moderator hug the candidates after the debate?

Via the Free Beacon, a leftover from last night’s Democratic forum on MSNBC, which ended with Rachel Maddow hugging it out with Bernie and Hillary. The obvious critique:

Steve Doocy makes a similar point in the second video below by wondering how the media would react if Megyn Kelly gave one of the candidates a hug after a Republican debate. Right, but Kelly and Chris Wallace are on the reporter side of Fox, just as Chuck Todd (who opted for a handshake) is at NBC. Maddow is a commentator and her politics aren’t secret. The better analogy at Fox is to Hannity. Would the media give Hannity a pass if he co-moderated a Republican debate and then bro-hugged Trump afterward? I’m thinking … yeah, probably, since Hannity makes no pretense of evenhandedness in his politics either. There’s nothing wrong, I think, with sticking people who are overtly ideological on a panel during a primary, when most of the audience leans strongly that way on ideology too. Mary Katharine will be on ABC’s panel tomorrow night precisely because she’s a conservative, on the theory that a conservative will understand better what a conservative-leaning audience wants the candidates to address. Maddow filled a similar role for MSNBC and no one was under any illusions about it. What’s the harm?

Geraldo Rivera makes a decent point in the second clip, though, when he says that the hug essentially signals to viewers that the questions Maddow asked that were critical of the candidates shouldn’t be taken too seriously. That’s sort of true, although I’d phrase it differently. I think the message of the hug is that Clinton and Sanders are both worthy nominees; presumably, if one of them had said something disqualifying to Maddow, a hug wouldn’t have been forthcoming. That helps Hillary more than it does Bernie since, presumably, some parts of MSNBC’s left-wing audience view Hillary as insufficiently progressive. Now here’s Rachel Maddow, progressive warrior, giving her a friendly embrace. Not a huge deal, but something that should irritate a liberal more than it does a conservative, I think.

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