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Democratic debate teaser mocked for its whiteness

Pete Buttigieg's height was even altered in the image.


Libby Cohen


Posted on Jan 14, 2020   Updated on May 19, 2021, 5:51 pm CDT

The New York Times released a preview image of the Democratic presidential candidates ahead of Tuesday night’s debate. People online couldn’t help but notice the apparent lack of color in the image–and they’re not talking about the image being in black and white (because it’s not).

Originally, 29 candidates were vying for the Democratic party’s vote. Now, only six of the top candidates will be gracing the debate stage in Des Moines, Iowa, for the last remaining debate before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses. All six candidates, as made evident by the preview image, are white.

The candidates are Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Tom Steyer.

“Tonight’s candidates and podium positioning #DemDebate,” Twitter account @Behind2020 wrote, along with the image, courtesy of the Times.

Behind 2020 is a Twitter account capturing “candid moments, 2020 gems, friendships, facts, and social media highlights” of the 2020 primary, according to its bio.


Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) dropped out of the race, leaving an almost all-white Democratic field.

One Twitter user responded with a GIF of The Office’s Michael Scott, portrayed by Steve Carell, saying “You’re so white.”

Even though he remains a highly funded candidate, Andrew Yang did not qualify for the debate, according to the Times. Yang’s campaign claims he raised more than $16.5 million last quarter. But, he is polling “significantly lower” than the six candidates who did qualify, according to NBC News.

Some of Yang’s supporters think he was snubbed from the debate stage.

“Only white people. No @AndrewYang. Suspicious,” Twitter user @WickedShineGame wrote.

Besides the lack of diversity, the image is standing out to people in other ways. The photo is seemingly altered to make the candidates closer in height. But, most debate watchers know that Buttigieg does not size up in reality.

“These height proportions are F*CKING SENDING ME RN WTF,” Twitter user @len_len_mendoza pointed out.

Another noted how awkward the photo looks.

“it’s great that all six look almost, but not quite, human,” Twitter user @AndyWarrenStein wrote.

The debate is slated to air at 9pm ET on CNN.


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*First Published: Jan 14, 2020, 4:18 pm CST