CNBC Defends “Tough Questions”

Last night’s presidential debate was the most-watched program in CNBC’s history, which might not be a good thing for the cable network. The moderators’ performance was generally considered disgraceful, as we have already noted more than once. NBC’s spokesman–CNBC is part of the NBC news empire, now America’s most left-wing–put out a one-line statement defending the moderators’ performance:

People who want to be president of the United States should be able to answer tough questions.

But the problem with the questions wasn’t that they were “tough,” it was that they consistently promoted Democratic Party talking points, whether true or not; they were frequently derisive and belittling; and often, they were downright stupid. Let’s remember why the candidates and most viewers became so irate:

[I]n 30 seconds, without telling us that you try too hard or that you’re a perfectionist…
…what is your biggest weakness and what are you doing to address it?

Mr. Trump, you’ve done very well in this campaign so far by promising to build a wall and make another country pay for it. Send 11 million people out of the country. Cut taxes $10 trillion without increasing the deficit. And make Americans better off because your greatness would replace the stupidity and incompetence of others.
Let’s be honest.
Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?

Governor Kasich…you had some very strong words to say yesterday about what’s happening in your party and what you’re hearing from the two gentlemen we’ve just heard from. Would you repeat it?

Well, let’s just get more pointed about it. You said yesterday that you were hearing proposals that were just crazy from your colleagues. Who were you talking about?

This one is for Senator Rubio. You’ve been a young man in a hurry ever since you won your first election in your 20s. You’ve had a big accomplishment in the Senate, an immigration bill providing a path to citizenship the conservatives in your party hate, and even you don’t support anymore. Now, you’re skipping more votes than any senator to run for president. Why not slow down, get a few more things done first or least finish what you start?

[W]e’re moving to Governor Bush. Governor, the fact that you’re at the fifth lectern tonight shows how far your stock has fallen in this race, despite the big investment your donors have made. …
Ben Bernanke, who was appointed Fed chairman by your brother, recently wrote a book in which he said he no longer considers himself a Republican because the Republican Party has given in to know- nothingism. Is that why you’re having a difficult time in this race?

Senator Cruz. Congressional Republicans, Democrats and the White House are about to strike a compromise that would raise the debt limit, prevent a government shutdown and calm financial markets that fear of — another Washington-created crisis is on the way.
Does your opposition to it show that you’re not the kind of problem-solver American voters want?

Governor Christie…Governor Huckabee, who is here on the stage, has said that you and others who think this way are trying to rob seniors of the benefits that they’ve earned. It raises the question: When it is acceptable to break a social compact?

Senator Rubio, you yourself have said that you’ve had issues. You have a lack of bookkeeping skills. You accidentally inter-mingled campaign money with your personal money. You faced foreclosure on a second home that you bought. And just last year, you liquidated a $68,000 retirement fund. That’s something that cost you thousands of dollars in taxes and penalties.
In terms of all of that, it raises the question whether you have the maturity and wisdom to lead this $17 trillion economy. What do you say?

Dr. Carson, we know you as a physician, but we wanted to ask you about your involvement on some corporate boards, including Costco’s. Last year, a marketing study called the warehouse retailer the number one gay-friendly brand in America, partly because of its domestic partner benefits.
Why would you serve on a company whose policies seem to run counter to your views on homosexuality?

Governor Huckabee…The leading Republican candidate, when you look at the average of national polls right now, is Donald Trump. When you look at him, do you see someone with the moral authority to unite the country?

And that leaves out the many follow-ups and interjections that left the impression that the moderators thought the debate was supposed to be between them and the candidates. This is a montage of CNBC’s John Harwood debating the Republicans on behalf of his party:

It was a sad day for journalism, but a good one for most of the Republican presidential candidates.