If you watched the Republican debate on Wednesday night, you were treated to one of the greatest dumpster fires of all time live on television. I mean, chances are you didn’t watch it – it only drew 14 million viewers, way down from the other two Republican debates – because it was on CNBC, which I guess very few people still know exists.
Still, there were plenty of good things to come out of the debate. First, there were arguably three winners. Ted Cruz landed solid hits on the media thanks to the trainwreck of a moderating panel (we’ll get to that shortly). Marco Rubio beat the living snot (verbally) out of Jeb Bush. And Ben Carson didn’t screw up, which very likely leaves him as the frontrunner for the time being.
Cruz’s shot at the media came after a series of non-serious questions aimed at increasing hostility between the candidates. It backfired, and the moderators ended up breaking the first rule of journalism: Never make yourself part of the story. Cruz killed it with just one response, too. “This is why the American public doesn’t trust the media.”
Jeb Bush and his campaign has been telegraphing for a week that they were going to hit Marco Rubio on his lack of voting in the Senate. The moment the moderator brings it up, Rubio knocks it down. Then Jeb chimes in, and Rubio tells him basically that whoever on his campaign told him to say that gave him bad advice. Jeb’s night was ruined.
One of the moderators, John Harwood, is a known Democratic activist and has defended Hillary Clinton on multiple occasions. It was entirely forseeable that this would be a trainwreck. The only person who appears to have been blindsided is Reince Preibus, the chairman of the GOP, who blasted the event afterward. I am of the belief that Preibus, despite the trashing he’s getting, is one of the luckiest men on the planet.
Harwood and the other moderators walked into the make-up room at CNBC and said “We want to appear as the Republicans see us.” So, the make-up artist painted them up as clowns and sent them on their way. They reinforced the conservative idea that the media is out to get them, and it played very well with the base – people in the debate crowd booed on live television. CNBC did the Republicans a huge favor, giving virtually all the candidates at the adult table some great soundbites.
Joe Cunningham is a conservative commentator, Front Page Editor at RedState.com, contributor to The Hayride, and a teacher in south Louisiana. You can find him on Twitter at @JoePCunningham and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jcunninghamwrites.