Yes, that headline could cover just about all aspects of the network, but at the Tatler, Bryan Preston is focusing specifically on their coverage of tonight’s debate. As Bryan writes, “The Candidates Were Fine, but CNN is a Joke:”
None of the candidates committed a major gaffe. Santorum was wobbly at times as the central target, but never came off as unsuited to leadership. Romney was agile, Gingrich offered his usual mix of high level policy shrewdness and cynicism toward current federal practices. Ron Paul assailed spending and put himself to the left of the field on foreign policy. None of this was particularly new.
CNN, though, deserves serious criticism. These four men have put themselves forward as candidates to replace President Barack Obama as commander in chief. The economy is soft, gas prices are skyrocketing, the border is a violent mess and the world awaits the inevitable news that either Israel has launched a military strike on Iran’s nuclear program, or Iran has conducted a nuclear test. That’s the binary choice the world is looking at. Whichever event happens, and one of them will, the world will change drastically and immediately. If Israel strikes, will Iran move to close the Strait of Hormuz? Will it activate Hizballah not just in Lebanon, but in South America and Mexico? Will the resulting oil shock from either event drive the economy over the brink into depression? If Iran is allowed to complete a nuclear weapon, will the rest of the Middle East follow suit? Instead of exploring these serious issues at a length that respects the gravity, CNN chose instead to waste time asking the candidates to define themselves with one word. Moderator John King teased that inane question both before and after a break, to make it the climax of the night.
This is CNN, and CNN is stupid. It is unserious, lacking in judgment, unfair, ridiculous, petty and malignant. The GOP should consider disallowing CNN’s participation in any future debates.
Instead of a serious security question, King asked, 81 minutes into the debate, about the role of women in combat. Romney took that question as an opportunity to discuss the Iran threat. The first actual question about Iran’s nuclear program came from an audience member, fully 85 minutes into the debate. Fifteen minutes later, the debate moved onto other issues.
To rank the candidates is always subjective, but Romney probably comes off as the strongest leader with the broadest experience, with Gingrich the most interesting and expansive thinker, Santorum the most passionate advocate and Paul the most consistent in his positions, though his positions are often at odds with the Republican Party and mainstream America. CNN badly mishandled this important debate, which may be the final one before the GOP convention, and did a disservice to the American people.
In today’s National Review Online is a suggestion that — at last — the GOP should drop having MSM anchors hosting the candidates’ debates, a vestigial holdover from the mid-century days of three TV networks that at least (with notable exceptions) attempted to hide or play down their biases. Those days have been gone for decades, and TV itself is starting to look pretty long in the tooth as a medium. They don’t call it the stupid party for nothing, but maybe there’s a chance it will finally listen.
(I know, I know — who am I kidding?)