CHARLOTTE, NC, October 29, 2015 – There was one clear loser in the Republican debate Wednesday night – the mainstream media.
It happened early in the game. The candidates were floundering a little, trying their best to get some good swings against their media rivals who began by serving up an array of curves, change ups and inside fast balls.
That’s when Ted Cruz stepped to the plate, swinging at the first pitch; another low Washington insider fastball. The Texas senator refused to take the bait, choosing instead to swing for the fences. The result was a resounding home run that turned the tide of the Colorado confrontation.
From that point forward the game was on “Cruz control” and CNBC not only went down to a rousing defeat, they were completely shut out.
Was it a turning point? Only time will tell, but the Republican presidential candidates were up to the task of making the media appear small, biased and out of touch.
Sadly, the CNBC panel of moderators seemed to be oblivious, or not to care, that they were exhibiting their journalistic inferiority in front of millions of people who normally would not give their network the time of day.
The other clear statement was that all, not just one or two, of the Republicans participating in the debate are light years ahead of their Democratic challengers. In the end, the contest was decided as a battle of ideas and philosophies. Viewers can agree or disagree about the issues and the solutions, but the key was that eleven people put forth real and solid proposals to counter the standard “tax the rich” mantra of the Democrats.
“The questions asked in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” replied Ted Cruz in response to a “gotcha” question by John Harwood. “Everyone home tonight knows that the moderators have no intention of voting in a Republican primary.”
Once Cruz started the rally, his Republican opponents continued the momentum throughout the evening by responding with similar slaps at the moderators.
“This is not a cage match. And you look at the questions — Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues,” said Cruz while the audience responded with rousing applause.
Once exposed for their bias, the media never recovered. In the end it was a disastrous evening for the press and a surprisingly unified victory for the candidates, all of whom demonstrated a deep sense of conviction for their country.
Cruz went on to chastise the media team for the “softball” questions lobbed at the Democratic candidates during their own debate.
It was then that Cruz set the pace for the remainder of the evening when he said, “The men and women on this stage have more ideas, more experience, more common sense, than every participant in the Democratic debate. That debate reflected a debate between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.”
Howard Kurtz of FOX News termed the CNBC performance “an absolute train wreck. Many of the moderators’ questions seemed to be snide, hostile, condescending, borderline insulting.”
The Republicans never hit back-to-back home runs, but the onslaught continued throughout the telecast with other biting comments from Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and, even, Ben Carson in his typically soft-spoken style.
When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was interrupted by John Harwood while answering a question about climate change, the governor responded, “John, do you want me to answer or do you want to answer, because I got to tell you the truth, even in New Jersey what you’re doing is called rude.”
As a follow-up, Christie went on to offer a strong answer to the question about how he would deal with climate change if given the keys to the White House.
The Republican performance was not a series of canned one-line responses. There were cutting one-liners to be sure, but they came off the cuff and serendipitously in a manner that allowed each candidate in his or her own unique style to appear able to think quickly on their feet and to respond appropriately.
In that sense CNBC may have unwittingly done the Republicans a favor. By attempting to “trap” the candidates into saying things they did not mean or that could easily be taken out of context, what the moderators did was highlight their own flaws, and by extension those of the Democratic party.
While the inside the beltway crowd from both parties may be playing politics as usual in the fading days of the Obama administration, at least the team of Republican candidates seeking to depose King Barack I are presenting themselves as thoughtful, serious contenders. CNBC unintentionally magnified the differences between the two parties.
For now, just select any of the candidates on the stage Tuesday night and make the others advisors or members of the cabinet. We could do far worse, and have done so for seven long years.
Republican Debate #3 was no extra-inning game. Rather it was a media shellacking that was over in the first few innings. It was a complete game shutout by strong, serious Republican candidates that not only highlighted the media’s weaknesses, but those of the Obama administration and the candidates who choose to follow him.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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