CNBC Debate Moderators More Like ABC’s ‘The View’
I find myself remembering American journalist and political analyst Gwendolyn Ifill, who among other plaudits cohosted the “News Hour with Jim Lehrer” and was managing editor of “Washington Week”. She also hosted the Vice Presidential debates in 2004 and 2008.
Politically, there are few areas, if any, that Gwen and I would agree; but that point notwithstanding, Gwen was a model of how moderators should comport themselves.
That can hardly be said pursuant to the debate moderators we have witnessed in the Presidential debates thus far. Moderators today behave more like they have emerged from drunken fete hosted by the third Julio-Claudian Dynasty ruler Caligula and then took their seats as moderators.
And none more exampled said scurvish behavior than Carl Quintanilla, John Harwood, and Becky Quick who moderated the CNBC Republican Presidential debate, Wednesday October 28. Joining them in the shameful debauchery and also from CNBC were Rick Santelli, Sharon Epperson, and Jim Cramer.
[highlight]Together they turned the Coors Event Center at the University of Colorado Boulder into the de facto equivalent of a Roman palace of depravity.[/highlight]
The event was to focus upon “key issues that matter to all voters – job growth, taxes, technology retirement and the health of our national economy.” Instead the CNBC moderators asked questions about fantasy football, personal finances, with Harwood asking Donald Trump if he “is running a comic book version of a campaign.” They might as well have asked the candidates where they shopped or what they usually ate for breakfast.
Suffice it to say that both in tone and substance the debate was without question the most transpicuous and offensive display of poor behavior I have ever witnessed in a debate forum of any kind. It was as if they studied the horrible behavior of Megyn Kelly, Chris Wallace, and Bret Baier, who moderated the FoxNews Presidential debate held earlier this year, and determined that they could behave even more boorishly.
While Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was mute with respect to the grotesque lack of professionalism and poor behavior of the FoxNews moderators during the first debate, this time he was forced to step up.
Faced with what was termed a “revolt” by the Republican presidential candidates, Priebus sent what “Deadline Hollywood” accurately called a “kick-the-dog letter” to NBC News chief Andy Lack.
The letter read in part: “I write to inform you that…we are suspending the partnership with NBC News for the Republican primary debate at the University of Houston on February 26, 2016. The CNBC network…and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith….CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of ‘gotcha’ questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates.” Personally, I find it interesting that Priebus didn’t find the questions proffered by Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace in equally poor taste but at that time it was “only a full frontal assault” intended to drive Donald Trump and Ted Cruz from of the race. But I digress.
The presidential debates are not to be conducted as an enhanced episode of ABC’s “The View,” with Megyn Kelly and John Harwood cast in the role of Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Beyhar.
The debates are important to the evaluation process of the presidential candidates, even if for many of the candidates they amount to nothing more than an opportunity to obfuscate and give canned responses. (cynicism intended)
The moderators are supposed to be journalists and political analysts worthy of public trust. They’re not to treat the presidential debates as a Saturday Night Live skit nor as an open audition for same.
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About the Author
Mychal S. Massie is an ordained minister who spent 13 years in full-time Christian Ministry. Today he serves as founder and Chairman of the Racial Policy Center (RPC), a think tank he officially founded in September 2015. RPC advocates for a colorblind society. He was founder and president of the non-profit “In His Name Ministries.” He is the former National Chairman of a conservative Capitol Hill think tank; and a former member of the think tank National Center for Public Policy Research. Read entire bio here