Ed Meese: RNC Leaders Who Allowed CNBC to Moderate Debate Should Be Condemned

By Terence P. Jeffrey | October 28, 2015 | 11:09 PM EDT
CNBC's Carl Quintanilla (Screen capture)

(CNSNews.com) - With conservative leaders sharply criticizing CNBC’s manner of moderating Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate—which featured multiple questions framed as personal attacks on the candidates--former Attorney General Ed Meese said the leaders of the Republican National Committee who allowed CNBC to moderate the debate should be condemned.

"After 15 minutes it was clear that this was not a debate, but a verbal shooting gallery set up by CNBC, with the targets the Republican candidates and the shooters their biased antagonists from the press,” said Meese. 

“Ted Cruz accurately described what was going on,” he said. “Whoever selected the ‘moderators’ should be fired and the RNC leaders who allowed it should be condemned.”

The three moderators for the debate were CNBC’s John Harwood, Becky Quick and Carl Quintanilla.

Cruz—as Meese mentioned--rebuked CNBC for the nature of its questions. Cruz did so when responding to a question from Quintanilla about Cruz’s opposition to the spending-and-debt-limit deal cut this week between President Obama and resigning House Speaker John Boehner.

“Does your opposition to it show that you are not the kind of problem solver the American voters want?” asked Quintanilla.

“Let me say something at the outset,” said Cruz. “The questions that you have asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people do not trust the media.

“This is not a cage match,” said Cruz.

“And if you look at the questions: Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain?  Ben Carson, can you do math. John Kasich, will you insult two people over here.  Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?  How about talking about the substantive issues people care about.”

At that point, the audience burst into applause.

“Carl, I am not finished yet,” said Cruz. “The contrast with the Democratic debate, where every fawning question from the media was: Which of you is more handsome and wise?”

A moment later, Cruz said: “Nobody watching at home believes that any of the moderators have any intention of voting in a Republican primary. The questions that are being asked shouldn’t be trying to get the people to tear into each other, it should be: What are your substantive solutions for people who are hurting?”

Soon after this, pollster Frank Luntz  sent out a Tweet: “Ted Cruz's focus group dials hits 98 with his attack on media bias. That's the highest score we've ever measured. EVER.”

 

Media Research Center President Brent Bozell said CNBC should be embarrassed.

"The CNBC moderators acted less like journalists and more like Clinton campaign operatives,” said Bozell. “What was supposed to be a serious debate about the many issues plaguing our economy was given up for one Democratic talking point after another served up by the so-call 'moderators.'  They clearly war-gamed this thinking that a relentless series of personal attacks on the candidates would somehow drive their ratings and help Hillary Clinton. The CNBC debate will go down in history as an encyclopedic example of liberal media bias on stage. 

“The audience roared its disdain for these so-called 'journalists,' and all of America heard it,” said Bozell. “CNBC's should be embarrassed for their pitiful display of partisan liberal media bias and apologize to the GOP candidates and the American people."

Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring was just as critical.

“The CNBC moderators were much more interested in trying to disqualify all of the candidates than in providing any one of them the opportunity to explain their plans and programs to the American people,” said Hanna. “Many of them were nothing more than the ‘when did you stop beating your wife?’ type of question that is the diametric opposite of responsible journalism.”

Erick Erickson of Red State described CNBC’s performance as a “disgrace.”

“CNBC could have saved themselves and the Republican Party a lot of money by hiring actual monkeys to fling their pooh at the candidates. This was a disgrace,” he said. :There are a lot of good people who work at CNBC and they must be deeply embarrassed tonight. In a press room surrounded by liberals, everyone was openly acknowledging just how terrible this debate is.”

CNSNews.com is a part of the Media Research Center.