Who won Wednesday night’s Republican debate? The Weekly Standard scored it like this: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump were the top three. I had it as Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. Many have praised the performances of Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson. Clearly, no one stood clearly out front, and no one had a horrible night. Actually, there was one clear loser – CNBC.
The format was awful, as each candidate was given no more than 30-60 seconds to state the solutions to all the world’s problems. When the candidates failed to answer according to the wishes of the moderators, they were quick to argue with the candidates and cut them off. Chris Christie told John Harwood, “You are being rude even by New Jersey standards.” Even the crowd roared its displeasure with the moderators, sounding ready to revolt. Marco Rubio might have had the line of the night, calling the mainstream media a superpac for the Democratic candidates.
I sat through both debates. While I found Lindsay Graham’s performance to be extremely strong (it won’t matter) and always enjoy the infighting among candidates, CNBC displayed three flaws that should forever disqualify them from hosting another debate.
First, the moderators asked stupid questions. For example, Trump was asked if his solutions were “comic book” answers. For a debate that was supposed to focus on the economy, not one question was asked about the exploding $20 trillion national debt. Not one question was asked about the minimum wage. Not one question was asked about the candidates’ different solutions from those of leading Democrats. Instead, they asked about fantasy football.
Second, the moderators were not prepared. The candidates had to constantly correct them. The most glaring example was when John Harwood mysteriously asserted Trump and Carson never negotiated the debate down from three hours to two, when his own network admitted exactly that just a week ago.
Third, they were rude. When the Governor of New Jersey says you’re rude, that bad. At one point, Christie said to his interrupting questioner, “Do you want me to answer your question, or do you want to do it for me?” I can’t imagine a scenario in which they would have treated the Democratic candidates in this way.
The American people deserve better. There are real issues facing our country. It would have been nice if the brain trust of NBC/CNBC would have given as much attention to national debt, minimum wage, growing the economy, and national defense as they did to fantasy football.