My biggest concern about the debates was not how the candidates would do. I thought they would be good and they were.
My biggest concern was that the Fox News people would try to be the real stars of the show. That proved true.
The network had hyped the thing so much lately that for the past two weeks when you tuned in, all you heard about was the debate. And it hadn’t even happened yet. There was so much speculation – useless speculation – that I stopped watching most of it. Why get in a lather about what hasn’t even happened yet?
So that indicated that the stakes were higher for the debate among the media types and ratings mongers than among the candidates. After all, there will be many more debates to come, plus campaign stops, plus polls and fortunate or unfortunate events. The real pressure was on Megyn Kelly, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier.
Although I like Megyn Kelly and watch her show nightly, she has become a little too cute and too concerned with looking clever. Her pre debate attempt to warm up the crowd and introduce the candidates flopped when none came out on the stage. Maybe being a bit too cute is not the right tone?
The three moderators launched into the candidates immediately. The first question, whether anyone of them wouldn’t support the eventual Republican candidate was aimed at Trump – and boosting ratings. Really, it was quite shameless. It was a kind of one upsmanship that isn’t appealing in news people. They attacked Trump almost at once; some feel Fox has a bias against him and Ted Cruz. I could believe that having watched these two hours.
The questions they prepared seemed more like gotcha questions rather than sincere attempts to get a candidate’s views on issues. For Trump it was about bankruptcy and money he gave the Clintons; for Cruz it was you’re unpopular with your own party for dissing them; for Walker it was you’ve changed your mind on Obamacare; for Paul it was you’re blaming Iraq on Bush; for Bush it was his immigration stance; you get the picture.
Not that those aren’t important. It just seemed like they were relishing putting them on the spot more than they were getting answers.
I didn’t keep track of who got the most questions and who got the fewest, but there were times when Cruz and Carson were just dead air.
Baier was the most professional of them. Wallace liked poking the candidates to promote infighting. Kelly faded into the background after some of her initial volleys then came out with more towards the end.
A lot of the questions also struck me as future Democrat criticism talking points. It was as if they were doing their prep work for them.
Why do we even do debates? Is it helpful in the long run? Maybe it’s more a tool for networks heads to shape public opinion rather than to report it. Then the day after for pundits to digest it for us.
Go with your own gut and turn off some of this. It’s a long time until the election and listen to the candidates yourself with your own ears and read what they say with your own eyes and form an opinion.