The Republican National Committee is throwing an absolute hissy fit over the last presidential debate, hosted by CNBC. They say the moderators were totally unfair to their candidates, asking “gotcha” questions (definition: any question they don’t want to answer). The RNC issued a statement saying the moderators acted in “bad faith” and they are canceling a scheduled February debate unless NBC promises not to hurt their precious feelings.
The RNC has suspended plans to partner with NBC News for a February debate, citing a “bad faith” performance by CNBC in Wednesday night’s meeting of the candidates.
“The CNBC network is one of your media properties, and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith,” RNC chairman Reince Priebus wrote in a letter to NBC chairman Andrew Lack on Friday. “We understand that NBC does not exercise full editorial control over CNBC’s journalistic approach. However, the network is an arm of your organization, and we need to ensure there is not a repeat performance.”
During and after Wednesday night’s debate, candidates and GOP officials lashed out at CNBC for the handling of the debate format and their line of questioning.
It’s true that the moderators were terrible, but for the exact opposite reason that the RNC claims. They were terrible because they let the candidates interrupt constantly, demand and take time to respond to anything and everything, and just plain lie over and over again.
“While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of ‘gotcha’ questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates,” Priebus wrote in the letter to NBC. “What took place Wednesday night was not an attempt to give the American people a greater understanding of our candidates’ policies and ideas.”
That’s the funniest thing I’ll read all day. This notion that the candidates in debate are trying to “give the American people a greater understanding” of their “policies and ideas” is simply laughable. They are, in fact, trying to obscure their ideas and policies with a deluge of well-worn catchphrases and focus group-tested platitudes.
Was Marco Rubio really trying to help the American people understand his policies when he dishonestly claimed that the math that shows his tax program to be highly regressive was only so because the same percentage of a larger income is larger than that of a smaller income? The question he was asked, and it was repeated, dealt explicitly with percentages, not absolute numbers. He wasn’t trying to explain his policy, he was trying to obscure its effects by, in essence, lying in his answer.
And what are these “gotcha” questions? Asking Carson about his repeated and well-paid endorsement of a medical supplement company that is an outright fraud? That’s a massive violation of medical ethics and the Hippocratic oath. How in the world is that not an entirely fair question (and why the hell was this the first time he was asked about it during this campaign)? Even the conservative National Review has slammed him for it.
This is a calculated temper tantrum. They’re working the refs the way a basketball coach does during a game, hoping that they’ll get more favorable calls later on. Specifically, they’re hoping to get nothing but softball questions in the future debate. And NBC will do it because they’ve got a lot of money at stake. This is like Trump’s “boycott” of Fox News, they’ll promise to be really good and the RNC will come back and everyone will play nice and pretend that this has anything remotely to do with their integrity.