Tuesday night’s CNN Democratic Debate in Des Moines, Iowa has been largely deemed as a dull affair, where presidential hopefuls were more interested in keeping things mild ahead of the Iowa caucuses as opposed to letting sparks fly. Even the moment that was poised for drama—addressing allegations that Bernie Sanders told Elizabeth Warren that a woman cannot win the presidency, which Sanders denies—largely left Sanders unscathed and Warren with the biggest applause of the night, but no viral clash. At least, not until the whole thing was all over.
Eagle-eyed viewers noticed Warren reject Sanders’s attempt to shake her hand after the debate. Instead, Warren confronted Sanders in a brief but heated discussion. While this was happening, billionaire philanthropist and fellow candidate Tom Steyer popped up, leaving him standing awkwardly between the two and visibly unprepared for what he walked into. Sanders eventually walked away from the conversation, ending the fleeting morsel of drama but sparking intrigue to all who watched: What the fuck happened?
Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir told the Washington Post that Warren “came to raise a concern, and [Sanders] said let’s talk about that later.” Sure, but what was actually said? Warren’s camp has yet to release any details, so that leaves Steyer, who has been playing dumb.
After the debate, Steyer said that he has no idea what was said between Sanders and Warren.
“All I was trying to say was to both Senator Warren and Senator Sanders was it’s great to see you, thank you for participating in this,” Steyer told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. “And whatever they were going on with each other, I was trying to get out of the way as fast as possible.”
Meanwhile, Steyer told CNN that he was “wasn’t really listening” to their conversation (one incredulous pundit responded, “How can you not hear Bernie Sanders?”).
Either Steyer is simply protecting the privacy of two individuals—a mature, thoughtful decision that journalists hate—or his mind really was elsewhere, thinking about his favorite new TikTok, or environmental collapse, or which red plaid tie he’ll wear tomorrow.
If Steyer heard even a morsel of what went down, he could make himself useful and leak the convo. Alas, it looks like journalists will have to focus their energy reporting stories that actually matter instead of debate gossip.