Quick hand check… how many of you watched the Republican debate last night on CNBC? How many of you knew how to FIND CNBC? Well, it probably went down as the most watched show on that tiny network’s history. But there was a loser last night. I wasn’t sure I saw any real winners….everybody did a fairly good job…but there was a standout loser.
The loser was the moderators.
I have spent 35 years in broadcasting. I have interviewed tens of thousands of people. I have been friends with Senators, Governors, Representatives. I’ve met presidents and I can actually say that I am friends with one former Republican candidate for president (Mitt Romney), and one current Republican candidate (John Kasich). But never in my entire professional career, have I witnessed a more blatant, biased, immature, and childish performance than that of the CNBC crew that moderated that debate. It was downright pathetic.
Look, I understand, these were business types. They’re used to covering Wall Street. They understand stock markets, not politics, I get that. But to use “gotcha” questions throughout, even after they have been called on it by several candidates, been booed by the audience on several occasions, to continue like nothing happened, is beyond the pale. This was an amateur performance by people who call themselves professionals. And now, I can finally understand why CNBC has fewer people watching it than I had listening to my local morning radio show in the 103rd largest market in the country. Pitiful!
It started with the first question to Donald Trump, comparing him to a comic book character. And of course, Trump looked and said, “that was a really poor question!” It continued to each of the candidates (at least they didn’t play favorites). Even after Ted Cruz called them on the carpet for ridiculing each of the candidates and questioning their use of debate topics, comparing it to the love fest the Democrats had on CNN a couple of weeks ago. Cruz was dead-nuts on.
And when Chris Christie asked the moderator, who kept insisting on interrupting the New Jersey Governor’s answer, if he wanted to ask the question, and that even in New Jersey, his behavior would be considered “rude”, the crowd erupted in applause.
But I thought one of the best lines of the night in the entire debate was when Marco Rubio said that the Democrats already have the most powerful PAC in the world…the mainstream media. And the crowd went wild! CNBC’s moderators, by that time were slumping so far down in their chairs that you could only see the top of Becky Quick’s head.
Speaking of which, you have to remember where this debate was being held. This was on the campus of the University of Colorado. In Boulder. This is not exactly Hillsdale College here. It is one of the more liberal bastions in the nation, and not a place I would have considered to be a place to draw as many people to the debate as they did. And the crowd even turned on the moderators…not once but several times. When it was obvious that they were trying to trap Donald Trump in a “gotcha” on Ben Carson’s religion, the crowd booed down the question. It was never answered (nor should it have been).
And I’ll say one other thing. The debate started off poorly. The moderators had no control, with candidates asking for more time to answer a question or to make a point. During the first commercial break, the producers must have come down hard on the candidates, because from that point on, the moderators seemed to have control….at least more of it than they started out with.
No, CNBC did one thing last night. They lived up to their billing as the worst news network in the country. I’m thinking even Al Jazeera could have done a better job moderating the debate. And Reince Priebus had better take that into account when he allows future debates to be scheduled. Reince, you need to go through the questions with the moderators! I’m just sayin’!!!
Carry on world…you’re dismissed!