Debates. Moderators. Questions. The media generally.
Republican presidential candidates and their party leadership sharply criticized CNBC moderators who hosted Wednesday night’s debate, and Ted Cruz said the event showed "why the American people don't trust the media".
At the conclusion of the two-hour event in Boulder, Colorado, Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus derided the moderators and their questions - an unusual move for the leader of the party that sanctioned the event for candidates seeking the party's nomination for the November 2016 election.
The audience even booed a follow-up question to Ben Carson about his business relationship with a shady vitamin outfit (based in Texas, no surprise). The exchange:
Carson has been tied to Mannatech, a nutritional-supplement company based in Texas. He appeared in a promotional video and spoke at two conferences hosted by the company, whose supplements have come under fire."This is a company called Mannatech, a maker of nutritional supplement, with which you had a 10-year relationship. They offered claims that they could cure autism, cancer. They paid $7 million to settle a deceptive marketing lawsuit in Texas. And yet your involvement continued, why?" CNBC's Carl Quintanilla asked Carson, also questioning whether it spoke to his "vetting process or judgment."Carson dismissed the question."That's easy to answer. I didn't have an involvement with them. Total propaganda. I did a couple speeches for them. I did speeches for other people — they were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of relationship with them. Do I take the product? Yes. I think it's a good product," he said.The moderator then pointed out that Carson was on the company's webpage. Carson said he didn't give them permission to do that.After the audience loudly booed the follow-up question, Carson simply said: "They know."The audience cheered.
CNBC quickly cut to a commercial. Even Fat Bastard got in on the smackdown.
"Do you want me to answer or do you want to answer?" he said. "Because, I've got to tell you the truth, even in New Jersey what you're doing is called rude."
Well, he would certainly be the expert. I've never -- never -- left watching a debate early, but twenty minutes from the finish line, and further annoyed by the simpering of like-minded, butthurt conservatives on Twitter, I threw in the towel.
Hey, boys and girl: it's not us. It's you. It's your stupidity any arrogance and obnoxious behavior all rolled up into a tiny fist you're shaking at the clouds. You're not just morons, you're assholes too.
Even one of your brethren at the JV debate gets it, fer crine out loud.
“One of the things that troubles me about the Republican Party is too often we question science that everyone accepts,” (former NY Gov. George Pataki) said during the CNBC economic policy debate.
“It’s ridiculous that in the 21st century, we’re questioning whether or not vaccines are the appropriate way to go,” he continued. “Of course they are. And it’s also not appropriate to think that human activity — putting CO2 into the atmosphere — doesn’t make the earth warmer.”
I guess this is why he doesn't register in the polling. He's sane. The mods were nonplussed about the vitriol spewed at them afterwards.
Wednesday night’s event was moderated by CNBC’s Becky Quick, John Harwood and Carl Quintanilla. The audience booed loudly at them several times - sometimes at the encouragement of the candidates.“There were a lot of conservatives urging them to go hard after the media and that’s what they did,” Harwood said in response to the criticism. He argued that moderators were needed to ask the candidates hard questions about economic policy.The moderators had little tolerance for candidates trying to interject and respond to another candidate’s answer, frequently cutting off anyone who tried to chime in. That, in turn, drew more jeers from the audience and criticism from the candidates.
It's a long-standing beef, these hurt feelings between Republican presidential candidates, debate moderators, formats, etc. Remember that Rubio and Christie even whined about their green room accommodations beforehand, and besides Cruz, Trump got in a few good licks about the event while it was happening.
When former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was asked whether Donald Trump has the “moral authority” to be president, the crowd booed.“Such a nasty question,” Trump said in response.
In his closing statement Donald Trump chastised the network for trying to extend the debate past the two-hour mark, which he and Carson had teamed up to stop."In about two minutes I renegotiated it down to two hours so we could get the hell out of here," he bragged.The candidates were joined afterward by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who told reporters he felt the debate had included too many "gotcha" questions."I'm disappointed at the moderators and I'm pretty disappointed at CNBC," he said.Priebus added that he felt the moderators had done "a disservice to their network, our candidates, and voters."
All of the bitching and moaning can be summed in the one-line response from the network.
NBC spokesman Brian Steel responded with a one-sentence statement: "People who want to be president of the United States should be able to answer tough questions."
Yes, I believe that's really the complaint, isn't it? If you care to see how the conservative media is reacting... well, it's worse than this, naturally.
After a performance by CNBC moderators that Republicans characterized as both biased and inept, a manager for a top GOP campaign says he will try to organize other campaigns to force the Republican National Committee to make "wholesale change" in the debate process.
In an interview shortly after the debate, Barry Bennett, manager of the Ben Carson campaign, called the session here in Colorado "unfair to everyone" and said the current debate structure should not remain in place. "I think the families need to get together here, because these debates as structured by the RNC are not helping the party," Bennett said. "There's not enough time to talk about your plans, there's no presentation. It's just a slugfest. All we do is change moderators. And the trendline is horrific. ..."
I admire the Mafia reference. That's some truth.
In coming days there will be many more denunciations of CNBC. But for the campaigns, the bigger issue could be the party. In an effort to avoid repeating the perceived problems of 2012, Priebus took control of the debate process. Now, if the Carson campaign and others unite, Priebus could lose some of that control.
I'll look forward to debates that focus exclusively on whatever the candidates want to talk about: whether that's a border wall, or denying the existence of climate change, that vaccines cause autism, that Planned Parenthood needs to be destroyed and so on and so forth. You know, matters of serious concern not to the nation but just the GOP base of angry white guys. I'll anticipate that they will have moderators who'll ask them tough questions, like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. And I hope it will all be televised on Fox, so I don't have to watch anything but the Twitter feed of circle-jerking conservatives isolated in their giant soap bubble, mansplaining everything to the rest of the world.
It's a shame Jeb Bush won't be there, isn't it?