Washington Post reporter Dan Zak penned a "TV Review" for his paper after the vice-presidential debate which bragged that "based on their performances -- not their policies only Vice President Biden acted as though he could sit at the desk in the Oval Office and have his feet touch the ground."
But Zak was much harsher in his remarks during the debate on Twitter. He attacked Ryan as one of the perverts on "Law and Order: SVU." "35 min in, Biden is Det. Olivia Benson and Ryan is the perp-of-the-week. #SpecialVeepsUnit" The “perp of the week” on that long-running NBC show is often guilty of perverted sexual offenses in addition to murder.
He also demeaned Ryan on Twitter as a child: “My #VPdebate review coming soon: ‘A man debated a boy Thursday night on national television, and both were ultimately schooled by a woman.’”
In the paper, editors toned down Zak's Twitter trash talk. The review began “A pro debated a novice Thursday night on national television, and both men were schooled by the moderator across the table.”
Zak admired the "firm control" and needling "vigor" of ABC New's Martha Raddatz as moderator, but admitted "Fairly or not, she reserved most of her skepticism for Ryan."
Even liberals found her favoritism toward Biden obvious:
"No specifics then?" she asked about his ticket's tax plan. "Can you guarantee this math will add up?...How do you do that?....I wanna know how you do the math."
Zak didn't seem to realize that Republicans at home thought she had no "firm control" of Biden as he routinely talked over Ryan. She interrupted Ryan 31 times was well.
Zak claimed "Raddatz held firm control of the debate without squelching dialogue or spontaneity."
Later, Zak went back to how Biden won the battle of gravitas:
“Biden, perhaps the last pre-Boomer on a major-party ticket, turns 70 next month. Ryan, the first bona-fide Gen-Xer on a major-party ticket, exited his terrible twos about three weeks after Biden became a senator. Biden’s Brillo-y white hairline has consolidated into a kind of Donald Trump-like mirage while Ryan’s appears to be advancing, led by his pronounced widow’s peak.
“And yet Biden, even when playing up his long political tenure, radiated much more vigor than his opponent, whom he kept calling 'my friend,' although he seemed to mean 'my silly, inexperienced friend.' To his credit, Ryan kept his poker face,” he wrote.
Zak had no sense of irony about demeaning 42-year-old Ryan as a child whose feet don’t touch the floor, despite the fact that Zak himself is only 29.
He only demeaned Biden in describing the “zany” night as good television. Biden “has fashioned himself into a blue-collar elder statesman who sometimes acts like your uncle after three glasses of Scotch. So a debate between the two should be zany, right? Eddie Munster vs. Uncle Fester! Or Eddie Haskell vs. Uncle Buck! In short, great television.”
But he also claimed that seemingly tipsy "uncle" Biden was the only one who looked presidential, with “chief executive realness” that Ryan lacked.
“They are not spokesmen. They are or would be second in command. And it was easier to imagine the confident Biden starring as the president in a one-hour CBS political drama. And isn’t what these debates are really about: Whom America can imagine in that role?”
Zak also analyzed the first presidential debate, but sounded like a protest vote against the conventional wisdom that Romney cleaned Obama’s clock: “if you don’t deduct points for Mitt Romney’s aggravating dismissals of Jim Lehrer’s feeble moderation, the Republican candidate was the winner. But the winner of what? What has this televised tradition become in the era of years-long, spin-cycle campaigning? This was less a lively debate and more a recitation of arithmetical soliloquies that have been performed for months.”
The Post headline in the Style section after the first presidential debate avoided a Romney-won theme: “Candidates' scripted discourse makes for brain-bruising viewing.”
With Biden-Ryan, the headine in the paper was "Mano a mano, with few holds barred. We want more of this." It's not hard to guess that Zak and the Post mean “we want more Biden.”
Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and co-author (with Brent Bozell) of "Collusion: How the Media Stole the 2012 Election and How to Stop Them From Doing It In 2016."