National Review: Kill presidential debates hosted by ‘mainstream media’

Alex Pappas Political Reporter

In future Republican presidential primaries, there should be no more debates with George Stephanopoulos or others in “the mainstream media” picking the questions. At least that’s what the editors of the National Review are now calling for.

“Not again,” the editors write in a piece posted online Wednesday morning. (RELATED: In debate, Santorum must prove electability)

“That’s the same media that daily carry water for the Obama administration, approach the tea parties as anthropological curiosities, and persistently skew the public discourse leftward in ways large and small, conscious and unconscious,” they write. “So why on earth should conservatives trust them to play any substantial role in the selection of our presidential standard-bearer?”

They write that “getting substantive answers requires moderators interested in asking substantive questions. And with few exceptions, few of the current lot have shown themselves to be up to the task.”

The editors make it clear they weren’t impressed with the debates of the 2012 cycle: “The semiotic search for the racism beneath Newt’s food-stamp line. The dismissal of ‘the Constitution’ in haughty air quotes. The wasting of primetime minutes pondering which wife would make the best first lady. The obsessive deposing of Romney on the legality of condoms. The condescending identity politics of carting out a token Latino to ask an immigration question. The dings. The bells. The buzzers. The Google Chat notification tones. The frightful specter of Donald Trump’s coiffure lurking around the next corner.”

Instead, they argue, debates should be modeled on last year’s foreign-policy debate cosponsored by the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

Let the RNC “set the number, dates, and locations of debates,” they argue.

“They should be fewer in number than the 20-odd we will see before this year is out, so that they are not so unduly agenda-setting. And the party should partner with local party officials, conservative think tanks, alternative media, tea-party groups, and grassroots organizations to determine formatting and questions. For broadcasting purposes, the participation of mainstream media may still be necessary, but they should be relegated to the status of junior partners.”

The editors added: “There can be no more George Stephanopouli asking sideshow questions premised on making conservatives look weird and driving up ratings.”

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