MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is taking some social-media heat for being professionally warm to Sen. Bernie Sanders and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton after their heated debate last night in New Hampshire. She hugged both contestants after the event, to the dismay of finger-wagging types.

“It was beautiful,” snarked the Washington Free Beacon.

Eh. Consider the hugs through the prism of journalism ethics. Were they transparent? Yes, there’s video (see above) of the hugs, which took place in front of the cameras; any clandestine backstage moderator-candidate hugging is strictly forbidden. Were they evenhanded? Yes, both Sanders and Clinton received hugs of very comparable warmth, duration and hand-pats. Were they prejudicial? Nah, coming at the end of the event, it’s hard to say that the affection received by Maddow influenced the questions, which were solid.

So that’s the verdict, considering that there doesn’t appear to be a hug provision in the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics.

All that said, this is a fair point:

Update: Maddow has tweeted about this matter: