I’m generally an opponent of debates. I think they add precious little to anyone’s understanding of either candidates or issues and reduce the level of discourse to a middle school playground or a game of ‘the dozens‘ where the guy with the best zinger in anointed the winner. Much too often, and this campaign season is a prime example of the problem, is that the moderators dominate the debate. Rather than candidates defending a position or engaging with each other we’ve created a system where the moderator is the star and the candidates merely their foil. Who dominated the first debate? The FoxNews moderators who took up an astounding 32% of the total airtime with their endless, blow-dried preening and “let’s you and him fight” questions. CNN’s offering was no better, Jake Tapper was the star. BUT… when it came time for the Democrats to debate, Anderson Cooper announced he would not set up situations that led to Democrat candidates actually debating each other. If anyone wants to explain the rise of Donald Trump, they need only look at these pathetic exercises in self-aggrandizement and see they are a perfect instrument for the host of a reality show.
Now we’re on the cusp of another meaningless event. This one hosted by CNBC (has anyone ever watched this channel when they were not in an airport?). This time it is moderated by a hard-core progressive. Via Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist:
So permit me to ask the obvious questions: Why in the world is liberal journalist John Harwood moderating Wednesday’s Republican debate? And where the heck is his conservative media partner?
Wednesday night’s debate will be hosted by CNBC at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado. It will be moderated by Harwood along with CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla and Becky Quick and is supposed to focus on economic issues, though previous CNBC debates have strayed far from that topic.
Harwood frequently angers conservatives for his partisan takes on the news. I mostly laugh off his predictably liberal views because I don’t take him that seriously. But that only leads us back to figuring out why he’s moderating this Wednesday’s debate. Let’s just look at a few examples of how he covers news.
- On the Economy, Republicans Have a Data Problem
- Tax Plans of G.O.P. Favor the Rich Despite Populist Talk
- Timing Gives Sanders a Lift in His Quest
- Republicans Vow to Erase Obama’s Record, but Such Promises Are Rarely Kept
- Outsiders Stir Politics, but Often Fail to Win or Govern Well
- Angry Bent of Party Let Trump Rise
- Bernie Sanders: A Revolution With an Eye on the Hungry Children
Mollie goes on two look at some of his tweets:
PERSPECTIVE: Petraeus gave info he knew classified to someone he knew unauthorized to see it. No allegation yet HRC did anything like that.
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) August 17, 2015
assume HRC received email that was “classified” even if not marked that way. any evidence/allegation of national security harm as a result?
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) July 25, 2015
Dem Senate aide after HRC email news conference: “Issue is now canvas on which Rs will paint their crazy. Overreach/incompetence guaranteed”
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) March 10, 2015
flapdoodle about HRC job-creation remarks about as close to nothing as “much ado about nothing” gets.
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) October 27, 2014
The last tweet was a defense of Hillary Clinton’s statement:
Don’t let anybody, don’t let anybody tell you that, ah, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly.
Claiming businesses don’t create jobs is, to quote Joe Biden, a big f***ing deal. And this is the guy who Reince Priebus is allowing to moderate a GOP debate on the economy.
I won’t quote more from Mollie’s article, you need to go there and read the whole story and take a look at the egregious and blatantly partisan things he has said.
I have no idea why we commit footshots like this. There is no logical reason why we have to have media networks and stars so tightly interwoven into the GOP debates. Priebus has some very easy alternatives. Like the network can host the interview and get the ratings boost but the RNC chooses moderators. American Enterprise, Hoover Institute, the benighted libertarians at Cato, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, any number of conservatives could do the job of conducting a debate and be much more credible and useful to our candidates than the clowns we’ve seen so far.