ABC warns Dem debate candidates: Stop cussing

Thursday, September 12, 2019
Michael F. Haverluck (

Beto on campaign trail

The proliferation of profanity among those running for the Democratic presidential nomination has the host network of the next debate concerned – so much so that the candidates have been warned ahead of time.

Producers at ABC News – which is hosting Thursday night's 2020 Democratic presidential debate – emailed candidates a warning to "avoid cursing or expletives."

CNN reporters caught wind of the warning, upon which – rather than appealing to common decency – ABC had to use FCC guidelines for broadcast television as the incentive for the White House candidates to refrain from using foul language during the debate.

"Interesting wrinkle to debate prep this week," CNN's Ryan Nobles tweeted Tuesday. "@RebeccaBuck and I have learned that @ABC – through the DNC – has sent the campaigns all an email asking their candidates to 'avoid cursing or expletives in accordance with federal law and FCC guidelines.'"

Begging Beto

Via a memo, ABC News relayed its concern to Democratic candidates – particularly former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) with his recurring swearing on the campaign trail – that there will be no time to censor out expletive-filled tirades because the broadcast will be fed instantaneously.

"We will not be broadcasting on any delay, so there will be no opportunity to edit out foul language," the message stated, according to Huffington Post.

O'Rourke's use of foul language during his 2020 White House run has turned up more than any other candidate's.

"Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke has received media attention for his use of the f-word in recent weeks to react to mass shootings and guns in America," Breitbart News noted. "His preference for profanity led to his campaign releasing a t-shirt to cement his use of the word to talk about mass shootings. He also spoke on a podcast with Jemele Hill about his appreciation for [a modified expletive he uses]."

Just over a week ago, O'Rourke returned to using the so-called "f-bomb" to describe the latest shooting in Odessa and Midland, Texas – his home state. On that occasion, he also insulted Christians by bashing their prayers as ineffective.

"The rhetoric that we've used – the thoughts and prayers you just referred to – it has done nothing to stop the epidemic of gun violence," the 46-year-old El Paso native told CNN's State of the Union host Dana Bash. "To protect our kids, our families, our fellow Americans in public places. At a Walmart in El Paso where 22 were killed. In Sutherland Springs, in a church. One or two a day all over this country. A hundred killed daily in the United States of America. We're averaging about 300 mass shootings a year. No other country comes close. So yes, this is [expletive]-up."

He also took his rant to Twitter earlier this month to advance his gun-control agenda, in which he wants to confiscate firearms from citizens who legally own guns.

"Thoughts and prayers have done nothing to stop the epidemic of gun violence," O'Rourke tweeted September 1. "Yes, this is [expletive]-up; and if we don't call it out for what it is, we will continue to have this bloodshed in America."

More toilet talk to contend with

O'Rourke is not the only candidate in the running who has resorted to vulgar language to express himself on issues. Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend, Ind.) has also failed to tame his tongue while being interviewed.

"Even the more restrained Mayor Pete Buttigieg dropped the word [an expletive for cow manure] in an interview with The Breakfast Club radio show in New York, which was censored on the YouTube video of the interview," Breitbart's Charlie Spierina recounted.

In addition, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) preceded O'Rourke's slam on prayer and use of vulgarity following a mass shooting that took place this spring.

"In May, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey lambasted the offering of mere 'thoughts and prayers' after a mass shooting as [expletive for cow manure]," the Huffington Post's Dominique Mosbergen recalled.

ABC's fear of foul-mouthed words emanating from the podiums Thursday night stems from a few derogatory comments offered by a number of candidates in an earlier televised debate.

"[D]uring the second Democratic presidential debate, Andrew Yang said the Russians were 'laughing their [expletive for posteriors] off' at the discord they'd managed to sow in the U.S.," Mosbergen pointed out. "Julián Castro and Pete Buttigieg both used the word [vulgar term for urine]."

The self-proclaimed Democratic socialist in the group, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), was also added to the mix of candidates using offensive language.

"In one viral moment, Bernie Sanders declared that he 'wrote the d--- (curse word) bill' after being questioned about his Medicare for All policy," Mosenberg added.

It was also mentioned that candidates are taking their foul-mouthed message online like never before.

"According to a 2018 analysis by GovPredict – a government research company – the number of potty-mouthed politicians in the U.S. on social media [is] on the rise," Mosenberg noted.

In fact, a graph provided by GovPredict reflecting the number of times politicians used certain choice expletives on social media was nearly 30 times higher in 2018 (2,419 times) than it was just a few years earlier in 2014 (83 times).


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