By Dave Andrusko
I had so much going last night I saw only bits and pieces of the third GOP debate live. This morning I watched much of it and read the entire transcript. Here are four takeaways.
#1. Sometimes the conventional wisdom just nails it on the head. In this case, it’s absolutely true that Wednesday’s performance (I use the word advisedly) by the CNBC panel was shockingly inept, borderline absurd.
For example, even in just the 30 minutes or so my family watched last night, the haughty arrogance of the CNBC moderators was painfully evident. Constant interruptions, snide asides, patently unfair characterizations of positions held by the various candidates, an overweening patronizing air toward the candidates–it was a bleak night for “journalism,” or whatever you would call their sneering performance.
You knew John Harwood would be a pain but I’m not sure many people (and that certainly includes me) knew anything about the other two: Carl Quintanilla and Becky Quick. But Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) could not have more spot on than when he said (on the subject of so-called SuperPacs) that, “I know the Democrats have the ultimate SuperPac. It’s called the mainstream media.”
And to prove Harwood’s impenetrable arrogance and condescending attitude, he subsequently tweeted
moderating GOP debate in 2015 enriched my understanding of challenges @SpeakerBoehner has faced and @RepPaulRyan will face.
(This was a reference to former Speaker of the House John Boehner and newly-elected Speaker Paul Ryan.)
Harwood was annihilated by the responses. My favorite was
1. Insult Republican presidential candidates with biased questions. 2. Get called out on it. 3. Cry that you’re the victim.
#2. The headline in the Washington Post today is, “After strong debate performance, has the Marco Moment arrived?” What that means is that Rubio will be subject to the same treatment Dr. Ben Carson is receiving, now that he is ahead in some polls. (See “On eve of third GOP debate, ugly attacks on Dr. Carson multiply like topsy”)
There were at least three, or maybe four candidates who did exceptionally well last night and Rubio was clearly one of them.
#3. Writing in the Post, Philip Bump took the position that while the moderators may have left their “A” game in the dressing room, the resentment the candidates felt–and expressed–last night largely reflected “the long-term and increasing rejection of traditional media on the right.” Bump did concede
To some extent, CNBC opened the doors for critique through its handling of the event. It started late, prompting mockery online, and the three moderator line-up meant that there was no clear guiding hand, resulting in an often-confused response to candidates going over time or demanding to be heard.
True, but that’s just an add-on to the dripping-with-smug-superiority attitude that permeated the moderators’ questions , or the tiresome game of trying to sic the candidates on one another, or the many softballs tossed Hillary Clinton’s way in the first Democratic debate. And
#4. The debate schedule is just getting going, for Democrats and (much more so) for Republicans. The next Democratic debate will be Iowa November 14 and hosted by CBS News, KCCI-TV and the Des Moines Register at Drake University.
The next Republican debate is scheduled for Tuesday November 10 in Milwaukee and will be hosted by Fox Business News and the Wall Street Journal.