This piece was co-authored by Michael McGrady
CNBCâ??s Republican debate broadcast was quite the spectacle. It was full of attacks, mud-slinging, insults, and lots of confusion about who was actually running the show. While that may sound like â??politics as usual,â?ť the truth is the debate moderators were the ones that threw down the gauntlet and tore into the GOP candidates during the prime time debate.
CNBC moderators Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and John Harwood were clearly the ones vying for attention. Their atrocious lack of professionalism throughout the event made the three CNBC anchors appear underprepared, at best, and on a hard-to-watch, no-holds-barred vendetta against Republicans, at worst.
Reince Priebus, the current head of the Republican National Committee, deservedly called the performance of the moderators extremely disappointing.
â??The CNBC moderators â?¦ did a disservice to their network, our candidates, and voters,” PriebusÂ said in a statementÂ toÂ Fox News.
As hard as it may be to believe, those â??harshâ?ť words from Priebus are an understatement. At times, it felt as though there was so much awkward animosity between the candidates and the moderators that I thought maybe the candidates may have been tricked into an MSNBC ambush. I kept eagerly waiting for Rachel Maddow to pop out from behind a podium shouting, â??Gotcha!â?ť
Harwood in particular seemed to have a bone to pick with popular Republican candidate Donald Trump. The moderator began asking Trump a line of questioning that focused in on Trumpâ??s commanding lead in the polls, but then things took a troubling turn for the worst.
â??Mr. Trump, youâ??ve done very well in this campaign so far by promising to build a wall and make another country pay for it,â?ť Harwood stated. â??[You want to] send 11 million people out of the country [and] cut taxes $10 trillion [by] increasing the deficit. And [you want to] make Americans better off because your greatness would replace the stupidity and incompetence of others. Letâ??s be honest: Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?â?ť
â??No, not a comic book, and itâ??s not a very nicely asked question the way you say that,â?ť Trump replied.
No, Donald, not very nice at all.
The two other moderators werenâ??t much better with the remaining candidates. Quickâ??s strange back-and-forth argument with Dr. Ben Carson on his plan to downsize the government with a change to a simplified tax code Quick said would create a $1.1 trillion budget hole was also noteworthy.
Quintanilla was no saint either. He targeted Carly Fiorina for wanting to reduce an obviously busted tax code from 70,000 pages to three pages. At one point, Quintanilla sarcastically asked, â??Is that using really small type?â?ť
Essentially, the candidates were â??ganged upâ?ť on and were not allowed to speak on their platforms that pertain to the theme of the debate: the economy.
The debate, in turn, was just a chance for self-interested, biased moderators to try and entrap the candidates by getting them to say something totally outrageous, but by trying to trick the candidates, the moderators found themselves playing the fool. Not one of the 14 million people who tuned it to see the debate walked away thinking, â??Yeah, I think CNBC put on a fair-and-balanced contest tonight.â?ť
One interesting question that remains is how the NBC News debate will be altered by CNBCâ??s poor performance and obvious bias? Will NBC be forced to play nice just to prove to the world that they still have a fewÂ realjournalists on the roster, or will it be business as usual for the mainstream media? Itâ??s hard to say, but since NBC News and CNBC, which both operate under the Comcast Corporationâ??s NBC Universal umbrella, itâ??s possible the NBC broadcast may also be keen on spewing nonsense and passing it off as suitable questioning for a presidential candidate.
All we can say is: Clean up your act, NBC!