Technically, Tuesday's Republican presidential debate will have three moderators: CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash, and Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt. But Bash and Hewitt will only be chiming in occasionally. By and large, The Wolf will be the one steering this debate, and although he's had a long and illustrious career as a journalist, his record is far from perfect. Wolf Blitzer's dumbest quotes are a reminder that the upcoming debate could, despite the moderator's bona fides, easily slip into farce if he ends up spacing out for a moment or two.
The CNN debate will be the last time in 2015 that the GOP presidential contenders gather on stage to argue with one another and insult the media, and considering how controversial some of the previous debate moderators have been, Blitzer and company will be under a lot of pressure to hold a tough, fair debate on Tuesday. Of course, "tough" and "fair" are subjective terms. It would probably be impossible for Blitzer, or any debate moderator, to turn in a performance that pleased everyone.
That said, if Blitzer wants to avoid angering everybody on Tuesday, he should be careful not to say flagrantly stupid things. As the following quotes demonstrate, this may be easier said than done.
On Hurricane Katrina
"So many of these people, almost all of them that we see, are so poor, and they are so black."
Ugh. Blitzer said this in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. While he wasn't incorrect to suggest that a lot of New Orleans residents are black — and may well have been paraphrasing former CNN colleague Jack Cafferty — his word choice was tactless, to put it mildly.
On Protests Against Police Violence, Part 1
"Hard to believe this is going on in a major American city right now. ... I don't remember seeing anything like this in the United States of America in a long time."
This was a comment Blitzer made when the city of Baltimore erupted in protests after the death of Freddie Gray. Clearly, Blitzer forgot about when he himself had reported on similar protests in Ferguson, Missouri, less than five months earlier.
On Surviving Natural Disasters
"You've gotta thank the Lord, right? Do you thank the Lord for that split-second decision?"
Blitzer asked this question to a woman who recently survived a tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. As he quickly discovered, the survivor in question was an atheist, so no, she wasn't going to thank the Lord for anything.
On Protests Against Police Violence, Part 2
"I just want to hear you say that there should be peaceful protests, not violent protests, in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King."
Blitzer asked this question during a trainwreck of an interview with Black Lives Matter activist Deray McKesson. The problem is that McKesson had already answered it less than a minute earlier, in the same interview, when Blitzer asked him the first time. An honest mistake? No, because less than 30 seconds later, Blitzer once again asked McKesson if he approved of violent protests.
On Lincoln Chafee's Presidential Campaign
"Bernie Sanders is anti-war. He makes that case and he's generating a lot of support, he's raising millions and millions of dollars, and he's doing remarkably well. You're not, though. Right?"
During an interview with former Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee, Blitzer repeatedly confronted Chafee on the futility of his campaign. That's all well and good — long-shot candidates should be asked to justify their candidacies — but with this question, Blitzer was essentially just asking Chafee to confirm that his poll numbers were bad. And that's just plain mean.