The Daily 202: Can Jeb Bush pull out of the death spiral?

30 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

CNBC failed American voters. Here’s how future debate moderators can do better..

Fourteen million viewers tuned in for the Republican Party presidential campaign debate on CNBC on Wednesday night, a record for the network, but criticism of the moderators left CNBC with a mixed victory.

The good news is, Juan is finally going to have time for all those “really cool things” he said last weekend he could be doing if he wasn’t in the fight. Ratings for the third debate among Republicans seeking their party’s nomination to run for the White House in the November 2016 election trailed the other two aired on Fox and CNN, which drew 24 million and 22.9 million viewers.

Senator from Texas, said the event showed “why the American people don’t trust the media.” CNBC, in a statement announcing the ratings, defended itself against the criticism, describing the evening as “a hard-hitting debate that changed the course of the Republican primary.” CNBC sold all of its advertising slots during the prime time debate, charging advertisers $250,000 or more for a 30-second ad, according to a person familiar with the situation. Party chairman Reince Priebus instituted a series of rules after the 2012 election in an attempt to have moderators who would be interested in discussing conservative issues.

An hour before lunch — a free lunch, by the way — his campaign tweeted out a reminder: They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but don’t tell that to Juan. On Thursday, Priebus sent an email titled “CNBC should be ashamed of themselves.” He asked supporters to sign an online petition to “put the mainstream media on notice” about bias. The audience booed loudly at them several times – sometimes at the encouragement of the candidates. “There were a lot of conservatives urging them to go hard after the media and that’s what they did,” Harwood said.

With the I-95 bridge to Kittery in the background, picturesque tugboats tooted their horns, trying to keep Jeb’s sparse crowd inside awake as they listened to another of Jeb’s droning vintage whines: He had just been endorsed by Judd Gregg, who last faced the voters in 2004, two years after Juan’s last election, in 2002. The moderators had little tolerance for candidates trying to interject and respond to another candidate’s answer, frequently cutting off anyone who tried to chime in.

Merrill Brown, director of the School of Communications and Media at Montclair State University, said there was reason for CNBC to celebrate because they delivered to advertisers “but there is no bigger win here” and “no one is going to be converted to being a regular watcher.” A CBS staffer tweeted out: “250+ at Jeb event … Bigger crowd than when Kasich was here.” Now that’s pretty funny, as Juan would say, when a Bush is reduced to bragging about outdrawing a clown like Kasich.

My colleague James Poulos is right to argue that simply charging the media with liberal bias is an all-too-convenient way to paper over the GOP’s structural disarray. And so when GOP politicians blast the media, journalists typically wave it off as another populist line that gets those strange conservative base voters riled up, with the implication that the attack must be based on a fiction, because journalists deal only in facts. The only conservative (or, sort-of conservative) they could find to ask questions was Rick Santelli, and to ask crankish questions about gold and the Fed, even though CNBC is actually one of the few networks out there with a bona fide smart conservative, Larry Kudlow, as an anchor.

It was also a dumb choice by CNBC; the Florida senator’s tax plan is actually the best in the field, and he’s smart enough to understand and go toe to toe on the specifics. (For the record, Harwood is still claiming he didn’t get it wrong, even though the head of the think tank whose report he cited said he was.) Being a journalist is a noble profession.

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