NBC’s big fight with the Republican Party, explained

VOX – By 

Republicans fumed this week over what they saw as CNBC moderators’ biased and disrespectful treatment of the GOP presidential field at the candidates’ third debate Wednesday night. During the debate, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and other candidates blasted the moderators for their hostile questions, earning cheers from the mostly Republican audience.

On Friday, the Republican Party played its trump card: It threatened to cancel a Republican primary debate, hosted by NBC-owned Telemundo, that’s currently scheduled for February and let another media organization host the event instead. In a scathing letter, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus accused the moderators of engaging “in a series of ‘gotcha’ questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates.”

Not everyone agrees with these charges. Vox’s Ezra Klein, for example, argues that the moderators were just doing their jobs: “The problem for Republicans is that substantive questions about their policy proposals end up sounding like hostile attacks — but that’s because the policy proposals are ridiculous, not because the questions are actually unfair.”

But Republicans see things differently. In their view, the questions weren’t just tough but downright hostile. And they’re using their control over the Republican debate schedule to pressure NBC — and other mainstream media outlets hosting debates — to treat their candidates with more respect.

The GOP says the moderators were biased against Republican candidates

It’s the moderators’ job to ask tough but fair questions that will help to illuminate differences between the candidates and help voters decide which candidate to support. Conservative critics argue that in Wednesday night’s debate the moderators nailed the “tough” part, but they forgot about the fair part:

  • Moderator John Harwood listed some of Donald Trump’s less plausible campaign positions — such as a plan to build a wall along the southern border and make Mexico pay for it — and then asked, “Let’s be honest. Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?”
  • CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla mentioned that Marco Rubio had sponsored an immigration bill that “conservatives in your party hate and even you don’t support anymore,” and added, “Now you’re skipping more votes than any senator to run for president. Why not slow down, get a few more things done first, and at least finish what you start?”
  • Addressing Jeb Bush, Harwood asserted, “The fact that you’re at the fifth lectern tonight shows how far your stock has fallen.” He continued: “Ben Bernanke said he no longer considers himself a Republican because the Republican Party has given into know-nothingism. Is that why you’re having a difficult time in this race?”

These questions don’t seem calculated to elicit thoughtful responses from the candidates so much as to telegraph the moderators’ disdain for the candidates or — in the case of the last question — the Republican party as a whole.

“The media works from the unspoken assumption that Democrats are normal while Republicans aren’t,” National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg wrote after the debate. “Many mainstream media journalists think asking tough, even unfair, questions of Republicans is their job. They’re congratulated for it by the media critics and by Democratic activists who are often friends or even spouses of the reporters.”

While most of the complaints about the debate came from the political right, even some non-conservatives were put off by the moderators’ behavior. “CNBC showed us how to conduct a debate unburdened by a shred of respect,” late-night host Stephen Colbert said.

Attacking the moderators was a crowd-pleasing move at the debate

The Republican-leading crowd cheered every time candidates attacked moderators Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and John Harwood. (Adam Jeffery/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
The Republican-leading crowd cheered every time candidates attacked moderators Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and John Harwood | (Adam Jeffery/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

The candidates onstage didn’t appreciate the steady drumbeat of negativity from the moderators’ table, and a lot of Republican voters shared the sentiment. After all, most Republicans — who are, after all, the people the moderators are supposed to be serving — expect to vote for one of the candidates on stage. In recent weeks at least a quarter of voters have told pollsters they plan to vote for Donald Trump, suggesting that they don’t regard his campaign as cartoonish. The way the questions were framed seemed to confirm conservative suspicions that the moderators were hostile not only to particular candidates but to the conservative movement in general.

So the Republican candidates took every opportunity to hit back at the moderators. The most crowd-pleasing counterattack came from Ted Cruz, who lashed out at the string of one-sided questions he’d heard so far in the debate.

“The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Cruz said. “This is not a cage match. 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? How about talking about the substantive issues?”

Of course, these paraphrases aren’t quite accurate — Harwood suggested Trump was running a cartoonish campaign, not that he was a cartoon villain, for example — but the crowd roared its approval nonetheless.

Later, Harwood twice interrupted Chris Christie as he tried to answer a question about his stance on global warming. “I got to tell you the truth, even in New Jersey what you’re doing is called rude,” Christie shot back.

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Audience Roars In Laughter During Michelle Bachmann’s Debate

Michele Bachmann and a host of other conservatives lie with impunity.  However, last night Bachmann got her just dessert…

Voice 4 America

Republican Michelle Bachmann had the first of three debates against her Democratic challenger Jim Graves earlier this week. One of the statements she made during the debate was, “It’s insulting to say that these are political speech, because that’s one thing I do not do, is political speech”, which caused the audience members to erupt in laughter. Bachmann’s next two debates will be on Nov 1st and 4th.

Here is the full video of the debate.


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Songify (Auto Tune)The News

A while ago I posted a few conversations redone by Songify.  I found a few that will update the collection I already have:

Presidential Debate Songified:

VP Debate Highlights Songified:


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Friday Blog Roundup 10-12-2012

Now That’s Debating

The Debate In 100 Seconds

A debate beatdown, in pictures

“Obama’s a communist” (video)

5 things we learned from VP debate

Vice Presidential Debate Transcript

Video: Gingrich, Granholm on Biden-Ryan showdown

Fox News Disappears Mitt Romney’s Flip-Flop On Abortion

Video: Political observers lose patience with Romney vacillations

Issa eyes hearing over Bureau of Labor Statistics conspiracy theory

Romney Wins The Night

Many pundits on the right are praising Mitt Romney for his performance in debating President Obama last night.

There’s no question that Romney’s assertiveness and lack of deference to the moderator helped him win the debate.  There is one question though…why is he still so vague on details when discussing his economic plan for the country?

The Huffington Post

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney spent much of his first presidential debate Wednesday walking back some of his core primary positions and highlighting similarities with President Barack Obama — from keeping bank regulations in place, bringing in more teachers, maintaining taxes on the wealthy, to making sure those with pre-existing conditions have health insurance.

But the president failed to respond effectively, drifting into his professorial demeanor and barely attempting to veil his annoyance with Romney. It wasn’t pretty, but Romney won, according to the general consensus among reporters and political operatives after the debate at the University of Denver.

Romney appeared more relaxed than Obama, who spent much of his time explaining policies he would likely rather be done selling by now. He hardly looked Romney in the eye during the debate.

There is one critical caveat, of course, in determining the winner of a debate: It’s difficult to know how the millions of voters, whose prisms are radically different than those of mainstream reporters, took in the debate. But, at minimum, Romney cleared the most critical bar, by appearing presidential.

Still, one issue continued to plague Romney: details. While he said he would end Obama programs, he was vague on how he would do so without eliminating a host of components he pledged to keep.

“At some point, you have to ask, is he keeping all these plans to replace [programs] secret because they’re too good?” Obama said. “Families are going benefit too much from them?”

Continue reading here…


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Matt Santos (The West Wing) on the definition of Liberal

I’ve said this before, The West Wing was my absolute favorite show on television.  Here is an example why…

” … I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor. ”

From The Debate episode, season seven of the West Wing

“The Debate” between Arnold Vinick and Matt Santos

Written by Lawrence O’Donnell 

Mitt Romney: It Pains Me To Fire You

Mitt Romney - Caricature

Sure Gov. Romney…sure.

The Huffington Post

Mitt Romney said Saturday night that it pains him to fire workers in order to make a company more profitable, responding to criticism from Newt Gingrich, who cited a  New York Times story on one of Romney’s ventures.

“It always pains you if you have to be in a position of downsizing a business in order to make it more successful,” Romney said. “I’m not surprised to have the New York Times try to put free enterprise on trial…It’s a little surprising from my colleagues on this stage.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney said that the laid-off workers are victims of the free market. “Sometimes investments don’t work and you’re not successful,” he said.

But Gingrich, the former House Speaker, questioned whether Romney’s private equity ventures were aimed at creating jobs or quick profit for capitalists.

Gingrich said he’s all for the free market, but “I’m not nearly enamored of a Wall Street model where you can go in and flip companies, have leveraged buyouts, basically take out all the money, leaving behind the workers.”

He cited 1,700 fired workers in a New York Times story on one of Romney’s corporate raids.

“If it’s factually accurate, it raises questions,” he said.

The Debate In 100 Seconds


As the GOP candidates lined up for their last debate before voters take to the Iowa caucuses, everyone took their chance to get a last pitch in with some final free airtime.

Everyone’s swagger was in abundance and some rocks were thrown at the frontrunner, but now we have to wait until votes are cast before everyone gets together to yell at one another on TV again…


Campaign In 100 Seconds: The Man Who Wasn’t There


In today’s episode, Rick Perry says he’s thinking about skipping future GOP debates.

But will he exude a mysterious and vote-getting aura if he becomes “The Man Who Wasn’t There”?

Or, wonders Thomas Lane, will be basically just look chicken?

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The Debate in 100 Seconds: What Happens In Vegas

TPM 2012

The GOP’s latest debate was their best yet… or certainly the most entertaining.

The gloves were well and truly off, and the crowd moved on from booing only hypotethical sick people, or real gay soldiers, to booing basically everyone on stage.


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