There’s been a lot of talk over the past couple of days about the record-breaking Thursday night debate, the first debate of Republican presidential candidates for the 2016 election. Performances of the candidates aside, there is a conversation that I think is much, much more damaging to the fight we have before us in the race to the White House.
The criticisms of Fox News moderators – and Megyn Kelly in particular – about the questions they asked have me worried that we are all suffering the same issue Donald Trump is: We can dish it, but we can’t take it.
The focus has been, of course, on the question Megyn Kelly asked of Donald Trump referring to his history of vile, sexist statements to women in the past. “I don’t have time to be politically correct,” Trump said, before moving on to talk about largely unrelated topics in his time limit. Immediately after the debate, and over the course of the next day, Trump’s comments on the debate (and Kelly) grew more and more hostile. During a call to CNN, he made the infamous statement about blood.
Trump, and to a large extent his campaign, love playing the classic card of the Left. They love playing the victim. Once they can make themselves the victim, they can go on the attack and proudly claim “Well, she started it!” and they think they can get away with anything.
What Mr. Trump
has forgotten possibly never bothered to learn is that, as Erick mentioned in his post on the subject, there is a difference between common courtesy and political correctness. I’m no fan of the movement to make everything anyone says or does ever unoffensive to all, but I recognize that in the world we live in, we’re going to turn off more voters than we win by tossing away the basic human decency we are born with and ignore the Jiminy Cricket on our shoulders. Trump’s idea that he can play the victim has failed him, and he comes away looking like a bigger fool to those, including me, who were giving him and his campaign the benefit of the doubt.
Lots of people, not just Trump, complained about the nature of a lot of the questions, but consider what Fox News did: They poked and prodded at the perceived weaknesses of the candidates. They accomplished two tasks in doing so: They showed themselves to be the fairest of the networks by showing they don’t mind asking tough questions of their own side, and they gave us as Republicans a chance to see what these candidates can do under that kind of pressure. The fact is, if you can’t take a tough question on friendly soil without devolving to personal insults on the moderators, how in God’s name will you respond to the rest of the media, which we know are rarely, if ever, on our side?
As a journalist AND as an activist, I would have asked Donald Trump the exact same question. Many, many, many journalists would have. I want to know as a journalist, because my job as a journalist is to ask the tough questions, and I want to know as an activist because if I’m going to invest time, effort, or text online for you, I better be getting a solid return on my investment. Senator, governor, real estate mogul, doctor, or whatever other job you may have had, I want you on the record addressing what I know you’ll be picked at most, and Fox News did the job of asking those questions.