Roger L. Simon

Will the GOP Let the MSM Back for the Primary Debates of 2016?

We all know the old saw, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

But how about “Fool me two dozen times and you’re the Stupid Party!” (aka, the GOP)?

The Republicans certainly did their best to prove the latter in election 2012.

And how were they fooled? The last election was arguably over and done before the real battle started when the mainstream media overtly and covertly made mincemeat of the Republican candidates during the primary debates, effectively neutering them for the main event.

Well, except for, momentarily, Newt Gingrich, who provided the one intellectually stimulating moment during that tedious and seemingly interminable series of events when he called the media out. That, unfortunately, could only be effective once.

Otherwise, the MSM performed the role of an unopposed air force in a softening up operation against a Third World country before the ground troops are brought in to mop up. And they did it well. (Yes, I know it was a “close” election, but in an economy with 8 percent unemployment and 16-trillion dollar deficits, it should have been a Republican wipeout.)

The extraordinary thing is that the GOP leadership allowed this to happen when a reasonable person could see it coming so far off he could have read War and Peace twice.

It was like nominating George Stephanopoulos to be the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Might as well go Full Monty and make it Chris Matthews next time.

The first thing the GOP has to do to win in 2016 is put an absolute, dead stop, end to this.


To begin with, learn who your friends and enemies are. (Yes, I also know we’re supposed to keep our friends close and our enemies closer. But that doesn’t mean you give your enemy your daughter to sleep with.) Then, obviously, you set up your own party debates your way. Keep the MSM as far away as the nearest leper colony.

Then what do you do?

I don’t recommend putting Hannity, O’Reilly, and the Fox News crew front and center. However you may feel about them — I, like many people, have different feelings about different ones — they are celebrities. You don’t want the media to shine, even if they’re on your side. They’re unelected and will be there for decades anyway (sigh). You want the candidates to shine – and their ideas.

One approach might be to start with a list of intelligent right-of-center people who will ask reasonable questions eliciting substantive responses. You can find them in abundance at such places as the National Review, the Weekly Standard,,,,, and, to be self-serving, There are plenty more, including, naturally, the Wall Street Journal opinion pages.

Don’t bother with Twitter. That’s just new-media grandstanding. No matter what happens, there will be twelve skillion Twitter questions out there, almost all of them repeats. Someone will have to pick and choose between them, making that person effectively the questioner.

I’ll make it simple. I nominate me for that job. Don’t like that? Well, forget Twitter. As I said, it’s a phony.

Another thing to ignore is “town halls.” They’re even phonier. Whoever heard of a town hall in a country of over three hundred million?

And don’t forget the obvious:

The presidency is not a debating contest and the president should not necessarily be a great or even the best debater. Lincoln and Douglas were a bit before my time, so I will assume they had special skills, but I can’t think of one presidential candidate or president of either party in my lifetime who was an exceptional debater. If that’s what you’re looking for in a president, elect Alan Dershowitz or the late Johnnie Cochran. Those guys would probably run rings around any president since Roosevelt in a Lincoln-Douglas mano-a-mano.

But whatever methodology is chosen, the time to move on it is now. Wait very long and, just like nature abhorring a vacuum, the Candy Crowleys and Brian Williamses will once more take what they believe to be their God or Goddess given roles as the arbiters of our political fate.

If the Republicans allow that to happen again, they are not just the Stupid Party. They are the Lobotomized Party.

So let’s light a fire under the often lethargic Republican leadership. Start getting this sorted out now. And, please, leave your suggestions in the comments. (Of course, this all refers to the primary debates. Next we’ll have to figure out how to deal with general election debates — a yet dicier problem.)

[Dept. of Self-Promotion: After some technical glitches, THE PARTY LINE, a play by Sheryl Longin & me about Walter Duranty, among others, is now up in print and Kindle form on Amazon. Have a look.]