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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

How CNBC actually messed up Wednesday’s GOP debate

From The Washington Post:

Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate became as much about the journalists who moderated it as it was about the candidates who answered — or batted away — their questions.

The moderators, their questions and their lack of control over a fractious field of candidates jostling for airtime became a central part of the debate’s narrative. And the shower of criticism that followed illustrated how powerfully anti-media rhetoric can resonate with the Republican base.

The debate’s host, cable network CNBC, gave them plenty of material. Moderators John Harwood, Becky Quick and Carl Quintanilla were under fire starting Wednesday night and stretching well into Thursday for their stewardship of the two-hour debate.

They repeatedly clashed with the candidates while asking questions. On several occasions, they seemed to lack the confidence to challenge false assertions. They asked some small-bore questions.

And they regularly interrupted the candidates or talked over them in a way that seemed to rob them of control and contributed to a free-for-all atmosphere.

The audience was more akin to that of a daytime talk show, booing moderator questions and cheering when candidates criticized CNBC.

The debate was supposed to be focused on economic issues, and there was plenty of talk about tax plans, entitlement programs and other issues of substance. But some of the questions veered toward the small-bore, with queries about the candidates’ biggest perceived weaknesses, whether Trump is running the “comic book version of a presidential campaign” and even the discount retailer Costco.

Trump accused the moderators of asking “nasty” questions. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said they had missed a chance to ask questions of substance. Carson on Thursday called on his GOP rivals to help him end “gotcha” debate questions.

“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?’ ” Cruz said during the debate. “How about talking about the substantive questions people care about?”

Even on news shows Thursday morning, the candidates talked as much about the questions of the moderators as they did about their own performances.

Rubio groused Thursday that the questions weren’t substantive enough. In a debate that was supposed to be framed around economic issues, he said he thought the candidates would talk about issues that included taxes and plans to reduce the debt.

“I thought it was a wasted opportunity, and, quite frankly, that’s what made it unfair, not just to the candidates but to the American people,” he said.

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