The Republican presidential campaigns will be having a meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss changing the debate formats and removing power from the Republican National Committee.
Politico reports that the meeting will consist of Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) campaigns as well as representatives from the campaigns of Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.)
The concerns the campaigns have include the unequal speaking time, the debate polling criteria, and the "irritating" questions. They are fed up with the RNC for not listening to their concerns and want to put the debate into their own hands rather than the RNC and the television networks.
"The campaigns are not going to allow the networks to control this process," Huckabee said on Fox Business.
This is long overdue. While RNC chairman Reince Priebus deserves credit for suspending ties with NBC, he has otherwise done a terrible job formatting the debate and should be fired, for reasons The Daily Wire editor James Barrett stated here. But as radio host and constitutional scholar Mark Levin suggested, the media moderators should be out of the debate process altogether, as far too often they insert themselves into the debate and do the bidding of the Democrat Party. Here are some of the worst debate moderators from the current and previous presidential cycles, excluding the CNBC moderators because they were obviously the worst.
Why the RNC would allow a man who used to run President Bill Clinton's political war room boggles the mind. But they did, and Stephanopoulos asked eventual GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, "Do you believe that states have the right to ban contraception? Or is that trumped by a constitutional right to privacy?" Romney called the question "silly" and answered that no state would want to ban contraception. Stephanopoulos kept pressing Romney on the issue, and Romney simply answered that the Griswold v. Connecticut case should not be overturned. Despite answering the question well, the Democrats ran around making absurd claims that Republicans wanted to ban contraception and were waging a War on Women. Stephanopoulous' question led to a Democrat line of attack against Republicans.
"The campaigns are not going to allow the networks to control this process."
The former NBC Nightly News anchor used to intern for President Jimmy Carter's administration. That alone should have raised red flags for the RNC. But a Republican primary debate at the Reagan Library in 2011 featured Williams asking John Harwood-esque questions that were designed to embarrass the candidates:
Williams hit Texas Governor Rick Perry from the left on his state’s poor economic indicators (“no other state has more working at or below the minimum wage”) , chastised him for cutting education funding and, citing how “your state has executed 234 death row inmates,” demanded to know whether he’s “struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?”
Williams was taken aback when the audience applauded Perry’s death penalty record, prompting a befuddled Williams to follow up: “What do you make of that dynamic that just happened here, the mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause?”
Here were some of the other biased questions that Williams asked, as chronicled by Newsbusters:
- "Senator Santorum, on another front, you're a devout Catholic, you've always said that you cannot, will not, place it aside in your role in elected public life. In fact, you thought President Kennedy, the first to be elected President, did so a little bit too much with his own religion. Having said that, the Catholic faith, has as a part of it, caring for the poor. One in seven people in this country, now, qualifies as poor. Where do the poor come in, where do they place in this party, on this stage, in a Santorum administration? "
- "Governor Perry, a somewhat related question. I’ll quote the Pew Research Center. They recently found white households have 20 times the median wealth of black households in the United States. How would you address that question, that problem, as President?"
- "Governor Perry, you can't have much of a workforce without a basis of education. As you know, your state ranks among the worst in the country in high school graduation rates, as we established. Yet, you recently signed a budget cut for billions in education funding, you pushed for greater cuts than were in the budget that the legislature passed. You’ve said that education is a top priority, but explain cutting it the way you did, please?"
The common theme among Williams' questions was that they were asked from a liberal premise and sounded a lot like they had been vetted by the Democratic National Committee. Not exactly a fair and balanced moderator.
The ABC correspondent moderated the vice presidential debate in 2012 between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wi.) in which she constantly interrupted Ryan and a plurality of her questions biased towards Biden. Some of these loaded questions to Ryan included:
- "You have refused to offer specifics on how you pay for that 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. Do you actually have the specifics?" She responded to his answer by saying, "No specifics, again."
- "You're going to increase the defense budget.... I want to know how you do the math and have this increase in defense spending?...What national security issues justify an increase?"
- "If the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, should those who believe that abortion should remain legal be worried?"
While Biden's constant maniacal laughing and rude interruptions contributed to Ryan losing that debate, Raddatz's liberal bias contributed to Ryan's defeat. The RNC should have seen that coming since President Barack Obama attended Raddatz's wedding in 1991.
Perhaps the worst moderator, outside of Harwood, was former CNN correspondent Candy Crowley's. Toward the end of the second presidential debate in Oct. 2012, Romney criticized Obama for not calling the Benghazi attack an "act of terror" until a couple of weeks after the attack. Obama tried to dispute the claim that he did, and told Crowley, "Get the transcripts." Then this happened:
“It — it — it — he did in fact, sir,” Crowley said, offering the president what looked to be a little debate assistance.
“Can you say that a little louder, Candy?” the president asked confidently.
“He — he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that,” Crowley said.
“This — the administration — the administration indicated this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous reaction,” Romney noted.
“It did,” Crowley agreed.
Crowley later admitted that Romney was actually right, but at that point the damage had been done. Romney was caught off-guard by Crowley's response, and he didn't bring up on Benghazi again throughout the rest of the campaign. Crowley's moderating completely neutered what should have been an important campaign topic that would have been harmful to Obama's reelection efforts.
The four examples, in addition with the CNBC moderators, clearly show that the media moderators are out to get the Republican presidential candidates and they should not be involved in the debate. The Republican presidential campaigns are wise to change the process.