This is likely to become a textbook emblem of the abandonment of integrity and responsibility by the American press.
The viral video showing Stephanopoulos calling out Sam Donaldson in 1992 for asking exactly the same type of irresponsible, trivializing questions he himself asked at the ABC debate is telling. First, it shows that journalists' trivializing of political discourse is nothing new. Second, it shows that the position taken by Stephanopoulos depends totally on where his personal self-interest lies. His integrity is for sale.
Speaking of which, the ABC response to criticism was not that they had honored their responsibility as part of the Fourth Estate but that they had had good ratings. I'm actually glad they did so. It's an open admission that they have absolutely no sense of public responsibility, even though they have been granted control of a precious slice of the public's bandwidth on the understanding that they would respect the public interest in using it.
Obama and Clinton both refused to show up for a Faux News debate, because Faux News is not really a journalism organization but rather the PR branch of the Republican party. They did show up for the ABC debate, and there they were confronted with exactly the same trivialities, innuendos and unethical sabotage they would have encountered on Faux News. Did Hannity, Hume, O'Reilly et al. dictate the questions the ABC sock puppets would mouth for them?
ABC and its non-journalists have deeply insulted the American people. They have assumed we will make profoundly important decisions on the basis of a half-inch of cleavage or a lapel pin.