Pretty much everyone who isn’t a biased, left-wing reporter agreed that the CNBC-moderated debate was a total disaster.
For an event that promised to focus primarily on substantive economic topics, it quickly spiraled into a bloody brawl between the inquisitive moderators and the defensive candidates. (RELATED: Republican Presidential Candidates Turn On CNBC Moderators During Debate)
Donald Trump was asked why he’s running a “comic book” campaign. Marco Rubio was interrogated over his finances and work performance. Ben Carson had to be quizzed on math. And there were multiple attempts to get the candidates to tear out each other’s throats.
But instead, the candidates turned their ire on the moderators themselves. Ted Cruz earned the biggest applause of the night by going after the questioners John Harwood, Becky Quick and Carl Quintanilla. Several other participants followed suit. Even the Republican National Committee issued a statement shortly after the debate expressing its outrage at how poorly the debate turned out. (RELATED: Cruz Unloads On CNBC For Media Bias [VIDEO])
Pretty much the only candidate who didn’t tangle with the insanely biased hosts was John Kasich. He was given an incredible amount of time to talk — in spite of his low poll numbers — and was given the softest questions of the bunch. Harwood even asked him to repeat his insults against Trump and Carson so the whole audience could hear how awesome they were. (RELATED: Trump: Kasich Got Fracking Lucky [VIDEO])
Kasich, in a sign of gratitude, said on Thursday that he was “very appreciative” of how the debate went and added the moderators did “a good job.” He is quite possibly the only Republican in America to hold this opinion. (RELATED: Kasich On CNBC Moderators: ‘They Did A Good Job’)
The nice treatment of the Ohio governor — in contrast to the firing squad-like handling of everyone else — is probably the best indication of the intentions behind the moderators’s heavy-handed approach.
Kasich touted his moderate credentials and steadfast resistance to the “fantasyland” proposals of his rivals — which essentially echoed the failed campaign strategy of Jon Huntsman’s 2012 bid for the presidency. And the chances of Kasich succeeding with the same, vanilla centrism is just as doubtful this time around.
But that won’t stop the preferential treatment. Nor will low poll numbers convince people like John Harwood that the American people aren’t all in favor of this “no labels” moderation.
The reason why the moderators engaged in partisan warfare was not for ratings or on behalf of Hillary Clinton. It was because they believed they were doing a noble service for the real silent majority.
No, not that rancid, evil majority supporting Donald Trump. It’s the (imaginary) majority that agrees with all of the biases and views of America’s most powerful people.
Radio host and co-moderator of the last GOP debate Hugh Hewitt tweeted out that it seemed CNBC’s crew prepped for the main event by watching reruns of Aaron Sorkin’s political dramas “The West Wing” and “The Newsroom.” While clearly a joke, it does shed truth on how Harwood and Co. saw their roles in the Republican primary.
Currently, the field is dominated by two outsiders who preach a radical, anti-establishment message that dispenses all pretenses of political correctness. The other candidates have picked up on the theme, and are trying their best to tap into the anger that Trump and Carson possess.
To media elites, this development is an outrage. In their eyes, the party has been taken over by an extremist fringe that has no place in the 21st century. Inculcated with a mythology of heroic journalists taking out dangerous demagogues, they believe all that’s needed to bring down a Trump is one scrappy reporter hitting him with the truth.
Just like in “The Newsroom!”
Or like the days when Jon Stewart hosted “The Daily Show.” (RELATED: Thanks For The Bulls**t, Jon Stewart)
These elites like to comfort themselves with the belief that the real American people are on their side. All the arrogance, rudeness and invective is justified by the mental image that there are millions of people cheering on the reporter or comedian who’s tearing down some far-right lunatic.
How else could Harwood not think he was being a complete jackass?
The funny thing is that instead of tearing down the GOP field, the CNBC moderators delivered them a gift on a silver platter. Republicans were able to illustrate the bias of the mainstream media directly from the podium, and generate sympathy from an audience that could clearly see the venom-laden questions.
Instead of a Hollywood ending of Trump and Carson resigning on stage, the moderators came out looking like the villains in this script.
The mentality that led to Wednesday’s catastrophe is another example of the huge disconnect in our society between Middle America and urban elites. The elites think that they know best and that the people enjoy their rule. The millions of voters who are flocking to Trump, Carson and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders — in spite of these men receiving daily derision from the mainstream media — tell a different story.
The last debate can be seen as an attempt by these elites to reassert their control. Their failure illuminates how the media world has dramatically changed, and the same old columnists and anchors can no longer sway the masses.