The loser of last night’s GOP presidential debate? The envelope, please

The loser of last night’s GOP presidential debate? The envelope, please

And the award goes to CNBC! It’s not uncommon for moderators of political debates to take flak for allowing their ideological biases to show through — think Candy Crowley in the 2012 presidential debate — but this may be the first time that an entire network was assailed for its bumbling performance. “Before the candidates even took the stage at Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate,” writes the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake, “the network hosting the debate was getting pilloried on social media.”

As the 8 o’clock Eastern start time came and went, CNBC’s pre-debate pundits kept droning on. And on. And on. It wasn’t clear why. There was no countdown clock on the screen or indication of when the show might begin.

Which is not to say that the moderators didn’t take (deservedly) their lumps once the debate got underway. Notes Blake, “The candidates took turns ragging on the moderators for their questions and quibbled with their premises and facts.”

But the high point of the evening (or low point, depending on your own ideological slant) came when candidate Ted Cruz unloaded on the moderators. It followed this question by Carl Quintanilla:

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Congressional Republicans, Democrats and the White House are about to strike a compromise that would raise the debt limit, prevent a government shutdown, and calm financial markets of the fear that a Washington crisis is on the way. Does your opposition to it show you’re not the kind of problem-solver that American voters want?

This question was essentially a variation of the schoolyard taunt, “Are you the only member of your family who eats [synonym for excrement] sandwiches?”

Cruz’s answer, which is worth watching (a video clip of the exchange follows), begins:

The questions asked in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media. This is not a cage match.

The applause Cruz received from the live audience was not the only such reaction. Cruz also earned the praise of a few of unlikely bedfellows:

Ultimately, Quintanilla got back at Cruz by telling him that his time allotment for answering the question he had asked had lapsed, but this just made Quintanilla look petulant in addition to biased.

It is high time that the format for presidential debates be changed, starting with an end to the bidding wars among networks eager to host the event.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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