The New York Times editorial board yesterday absolutely eviscerated the ridiculous Republican debate demands springing out of their war with CNBC and NBC over allegedly being treated “unfairly.”
For starters, The Times reminds Republicans of a little project of theirs stemming from Romney’s 2012 embarrassment, The Growth and Opportunity Project:
In a 97-page report, they concluded: “The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.” Here is what the study said about presidential debates: “No debate will be meaningful if not challenging, vigorous and fair.”
The Times editors mocked Republican demands, which include a ban on asking candidates to raise their hands to answer a question, being asked yes/no questions “without time to provide a substantive answer,” and even demanded the media not show the audience the moderator’s reaction, because gods forbid the audience see the moderator’s gape-jawed reaction to some of the astoundingly stupid claims made by Republican candidates.
The editors hilariously ask, “Doesn’t this list leave too much to chance? What about hiding dangerous extension cords beneath the carpeting?”
The Times editors score a major point when addressing moderator reaction to their claims:
“The debaters seemed to find it unfair to ask that they explain how they might simultaneously slash taxes and the federal deficit; deport 10 million people overnight; or cut the tax code from 70,000 pages to three. Alas,” lament the editors, “too many in a field of 14 contenders seem to have concluded that advancing wild ideas and attacking those who would question them are good ways to get attention.”
The editorial board predicts great woe for the GOP if the RNC lets the candidates stampede the herd:
Now it’s the R.N.C. that has been marginalized. If malcontent candidates get their way, the party leadership will be all but shut out of the planning for debates, a chief means for Americans to hear and weigh the ideas of the candidates. The debates are too important to be guided by a daffy document drafted by hotheads, demanding media outlets “pledge” that the temperature in the debate hall “be kept below 67 degrees.”
The ridiculous manifesto drafted Sunday is undergoing revision. The R.N.C. would do well to exert whatever influence it has. It is the party’s job, not the media’s, to save the Republican presidential candidates from themselves.
The Times‘ editors were far from the only people looking like Republican debate moderators following the release of the Republican demands. Greg Sargent, over at The Washington Post said, “It’s hard to see how any self-respecting news organizations could ever” accept these demands, which “appear designed in part to limit the debates’ capacity for creating unflattering moments that might arise in response to tough but thoroughly defensible modes of questioning.”
I think we are all agreed. But how often have we seen the mainstream media show any self-respect at all?
Media Matters‘ Eric Boehlert asked a fair question yesterday: Will Republicans get away with bullying the media? ” Early signs look promising for the GOP, less promising for journalism,” he concludes.
Is this any surprise? The media is hardly hostile to the GOP, being corporate owned like the GOP. Boehlert points to NBC’s response:
“This is a disappointing development. However, along with our debate broadcast partners at Telemundo we will work in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party.”
How do you work in good faith with terrorists?
As Boehlert asks, “Doesn’t ‘work in good faith to resolve this matter’ sound a bit like NBC conceding there was something wrong with the CNBC debate and that the network’s determined to fix it?”
I’d go further: Sounds to me like their preparing to bend over and grab their ankles.
No surprise there. They expected the same thing of President Obama in 2008, 2010, 2012, and more spectacularly, in 2014.
And Washington Post associate editor David Maraniss set the right tone when he tweeted Monday in response,
If networks had integrity they would refuse to host or air any debate in which candidates dictated terms. Period.
— david maraniss (@davidmaraniss) November 2, 2015
Ideally, the mainstream media would up the ante, as HuffPo’s Senior Political Reporter, Amanda Terkel, suggested Saturday in a tweet:
Why don’t other media outlets doing GOP debates come together and refuse to hold theirs bc of this? Parties shouldn’t have this power
— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) October 30, 2015
Yeah. That’s not going to happen.
And we have already seen what happens when moderators stand up to candidates, Megyn Kelly being made an object lesson in that regard. Boehlert rightly asks, “Will debate moderators risk their reputations, and possibly their careers, by holding candidates accountable?”
I wouldn’t count on it.
Or count on the mainstream media having the testicular fortitude to point out that the Republican candidates seem to lack testicles.
This is a sad state of affairs, and one that is unlikely to have a happy ending, however it turns out.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.