ABC News' handling of the Democratic debate on Wednesday generated thousands of negative comments from viewers and also excoriating critiques from members alternative and mainstream media alike. In response, ABC News President David Westin has decided to release a transcript of the untelevised portion of the debate, which took place subsequent to the one Americans watched on Wednesday night.
Westin, speaking with The Wounded-Courier, said, "While I think, on the whole, Charlie and George did an admirable job, I believe the most substantive part of the debate occurred after the cameras were turned off." Westin added, "I've decided to release this transcript to make clear ABC's commitment to excellence in journalism. We're confident you'll agree that the questions asked in these remaining minutes address substantive issues that are of the utmost concern to Pennsylvanians and every American."
Courtesy of ABC News, here is the untelevised transcript in its entirety:
CHARLES GIBSON, ABC ANCHOR: For the televised portion of this debate, we began segments with brief quotes from the Constitution apropos to what we would be discussing. For the untelevised portion, we will move away from the Constitution and quote liberally in a wild card fashion from whatever source seems appropriate. OK, so let's continue. "Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come. Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday. Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long. I am the eggman, they are the eggmen, I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob."
GIBSON: That is a quote from The Beatles drug-inspired anthem "I Am the Walrus." Senator Obama, exactly how stoned were you the first time you heard this song? And did the bong hits, combined with the tabs of acid you ingested, make this song less or more enjoyable?
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: You know, Charlie, I've already addressed my slight dabbling with drugs when I was a confused youth. I think I went through what many troubled youths go through when --
GIBSON: But how wasted were you the first time you heard "I Am the Walrus," Senator, and did your psychotic drug binge -- which may have caused you to black out for days on end while committing unspeakable acts you don't remember -- add or subtract from your listening pleasure?
OBAMA: Again, Charlie, I'm not sure how this helps get Americans health insurance, brings home our troops, or fixes the economy.
GIBSON: I'll take your response as an admission that pot and acid do, in fact, make this song better. But shooting heroin and the possible murders you committed during your unconscious fugue state detracted somewhat from the overall listening experience.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC ANCHOR: Senator Clinton, if a tree falls in the woods but no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound?
SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON: George, that is something which has been debated for centuries.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you admit there was no gunfire that day you landed in Bosnia?
CLINTON: Well, you know, George, I've already conceded that I misspoke on that issue. If you're campaigning as much as Barack and I have --
(STEPHANOPOULOS brandishes a revolver and fires a few feet above Sen. Clinton's head.)
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you would've remembered that, right?
CLINTON: Of course.
OBAMA: Can I just say something? I don't see where this is getting us. George, you could've just killed someone in here. That's not a toy you've got in your hand there.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Right you are, Senator. And that leads us to our next question. Charlie?
GIBSON: "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die." A line from Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues."
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Obama, your childhood friend Jimmy Choi told us that as a six-year-old boy living in Honolulu, one day you were both engaged in a typical game of cops and robbers, running around your yard with plastic guns, when suddenly little Jimmy tripped and fell. Before you helped little Jimmy back to his feet, you stood over him and said, "Pow! Pow! Pow!" over and over again, seemingly taking great pleasure in unloading your fake gun into your supposed friend. How can Democrats vote for a candidate who has shown, beginning at the age of six, to have such little regard for human life?
OBAMA: You're serious.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, Senator, I am serious. But not bitter.
CLINTON: If I may, George, I feel Senator Obama's response, to what I consider a legitimate question, is once again indicative of an arrogance and elitism that has offended many, many hard-working and proud Pennsylvanians. By the way, Charlie, my father once shot a man dead in Scranton just to watch him die.
GIBSON: (LAUGHS.) Very well then, Senator Clinton. Let's continue. "Don't go to bed, with no price on your head. No, no, don't do it. Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time. Yeah, don't do it. And keep your eye on the sparrow. When the going gets narrow. Don't do it, don't do it." Lyrics from the theme song to the gritty seventies cop show "Baretta," starring Robert Blake. Senator Obama, in a GQ magazine article in 2004, you mentioned you were a fan of another seventies TV police drama, "Starsky and Hutch."
OBAMA: Yes, as a young teen, I was, Charlie.
GIBSON: So I suppose you're familiar with a character called Huggy Bear.
OBAMA: Uh, his name sounds somewhat familiar, but I can't remember exactly.
GIBSON: Well, to refresh your memory, Senator Obama, Huggy Bear, a pimp and drug dealer, was Starksky and Hutch's informant. Or snitch. Do you deny your association with Mr. Bear?
OBAMA: Charlie, Huggy Bear was just a character played by an actor. You do realize he wasn't a real person.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, Senator, you aren't denying this association with a known pimp, drug dealer and snitch?
OBAMA: George, let me put it to you this way -- I cannot disown Huggy Bear anymore than I can disown Peter Pan or the Tooth Fairy. Because none of them exist.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Clinton, did you want to address this?
CLINTON: Yes, thank you. You know, I find it a little shocking that Senator Obama thinks enjoying the exploits of Huggy Bear is not deeply offensive to everyone who plays by the rules, gets up every morning and puts in an honest day of work.
OBAMA: Look, I didn't even like that character. I thought he was an offensive stereotype to African Americans.
GIBSON: But you still watched, Senator Obama. You're association with Huggy Bear is undeniable. All right, moving on. "Justice will be served, and the battle will rage. This big dog will fight, when you rattle his cage. And you'll be sorry you messed with the U.S. of A., 'cause we'll put a boot in your ass. It's the American Way." Inspirational lyrics from Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue."
Senator Clinton, this one goes to you. Is Senator Obama patriotic?
CLINTON: Look, Charlie, I'm sure Senator Obama cares greatly about this country. I don't think that's in question. What I do question is his ties to Al Qaeda.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mean Hamas, Louis Farrakhan and the Weather Underground?
CLINTON: Did I say Al Qaeda? Yes, George, you're correct. I meant Hamas, Louis Farrakhan and the Weather Underground. And also Huggy Bear.
OBAMA: Can I respond to that?
GIBSON: Well, you might have time later. But first, if I may, I have a related question, actually a series of questions for you. Senator Obama, who is more patriotic -- Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck?
OBAMA: Look, I --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck, Senator Obama? It's a simple either-or question.
CLINTON: George, can I just say it's clear that Bugs Bunny is far more patriotic of the two Warner Brothers cartoon characters.
GIBSON: Of course, the American voters are the ones who will decide in the end. Let's continue. Senator Obama, what is more patriotic -- paper or plastic?
(OBAMA pulls off mike and walks off the stage.)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, you know, George, we've all grown up with paper and plastic products. I remember the day my father first filled this baby pool in our backyard in Scranton when I was just a little girl. But, on the other hand, what would picnics be without paper plates. And who doesn't have fond memories of brown bagging it, too?
GIBSON: So you might say they're equally patriotic, Senator?
CLINTON: Yes, Charlie, I think so.
GIBSON: All right. And that's where we'll have to wrap it up from the great National Constitution Center here in Philadelphia, the birthplace of our democracy. I thank both of the candidates, my colleague George Stephanopoulos and everyone in this wonderful audience. Goodnight, America.