It wasn’t the debate result many in the media wanted. Author Marianne Williamson was the surprise star of a debate where she had very little time compared to her opponents – less than half that of the big-name candidates.
Williamson’s debate strategy was to push for “radical truth-telling.” This included a call for up to $500 billion in reparations for African-Americans and some tough talk about the Flint, Michigan, water crisis that won her loud support in the Detroit audience.
New York Times reporter Katie Benner pointed out how Williamson used Flint “to tackle the issue of racism head on.”
FEW ATTACKS IN CNN DEBATE AS TOP CANDIDATES STICK TO ÜBER-LIBERAL STANCES
Los Angeles Times National Correspondent Matt Pearce described Williamson as “often a much more skilled communicator than most of the other politicians on the stage.”
Williamson scored big online as a result. She was only the top-searched candidate in two states before the debate, according to Google Trends. Afterward, she was the top Googled candidate in all but Montana. That’s about a 2,450 percent increase.
Williamson’s most memorable line of the night talked about the failure of “this wonkiness” to combat “this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country.” While the comment was mocked by some on Twitter, it also resonated.
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Vanity Fair reporter Tina Nguyen joked: “Next debate: ‘Show of hands, who pledges on this stage to be against dark psychic forces.’”
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat criticized CNN’s handling of Williamson. “CNN obviously spooked by the ‘oops, we made Trump president’ experience into not giving Williamson the space and air she deserves,” he commented.
Comedian Sarah Silverman summed up a lot of the positive and negative comments at once, noting of Williamson: “She may be granola whacky but she’s right.”
Not everyone was happy about Williamson’s success. Vox Senior Correspondent Zack Beauchamp said she “is funny in isolation but when you think about it for more than two seconds her presence on this stage is genuinely disturbing.”
New York Times White House Correspondent Annie Karni retweeted Breitbart Senior Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak’s comment about Williamson having a “strong night.” She added: “Trump supporters eager to keep Marianne-mentum going.”
And New York Daily News Opinion Editor Josh Greenman added: “Williamson should have revealed her heat vision and mind control superpowers.”
The Drudge Report ran it as “CLASH OF THE LIBS!” But unlike its major media competitors, Drudge also highlighted the rise of Williamson.
“WILLIAMSON WARNS OF ‘DARK DAYS’ FOR DEMS,” ran a Drudge headline. The site linked to two separate Williamson stories. And though it was a simple push poll, she also won the Drudge poll with 47 percent of online voters.