What Ted Cruz Did in Wednesday's Debate Was So Much More Than an Applause Line

In one moment, Senator Ted Cruz managed to do what no other candidate for the Republican nomination for president has done to this point: unite Republicans. He did so by pushing back against the ridiculously biased questions presented by CNBC moderators. The Hollywood Reporter transcribes:

"The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media," said the U.S. senator from Texas, instantly earning applause.

"This is not a cage match," he continued. "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;' 'Marco Rubio, why don't you resign?;' 'Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?' How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?"

Cruz contrasted moderators' treatment of Republicans with their treatment of Democrats:

...every fawning question from the media was, "Which of you is more handsome and wise? ..."

The audience loved it, erupting in raucous applause. Social media lit up as well, with Republicans of every stripe expressing gratitude that someone had finally pushed back.

Reports on the moment typically end there. However, the reaction from moderator Carlos Quintanilla proves just as significant. After laughing indignantly at both Cruz and the audience, Quintanilla comes back with the tried-and-true tactic of accusing Cruz of avoiding the question.

This is a question about the debt, which you have thirty seconds to answer if you choose to do so.

Quintanilla proceeds from an unspoken premise that candidates must answer any question posed no matter how it is presented and no matter what premise it is based on. That's utter nonsense.

More candidates need to take their lead from Cruz and start objecting to the questions asked by media. By accepting questions as asked, candidates concede the premises upon which those questions are based. In this way, the media is able to make statements in the guise of questions, and thus offer a biased political narrative in the guise of an interview. Such rhetorical subterfuge is unacceptable and needs to be called out and countered, as Cruz did Wednesday night.