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Candidates 10, media 0

October 29, 2015

This is the year of the roaring mouse. You won’t find that on any Chinese calendar, but you will find it in the bastion of the so-called disinterested voter, particularly on the GOP side, and to a lesser but still fervent extent where Bernie Sanders backers hang out.

That bastion is the world of social media.

The CNBC main stream media (MSM) moderated Republican debate was scripted more as a sporting event along the lines of a promo for the WWE than a serious attempt to allow the candidates to inform the voters.

While the warm-up talent for CNBC was exhorting their main stage stars to “get the candidates to attack each other”  the crawl at the bottom of the screen carried comments like this:

“I want to hear more than vague generalities out of Trump”  or “I want to hear  substantive dialogue from  the candidates” or “I want to hear how come I have to keep paying into SSI when they are telling me I won’t be able to collect it.”

These were plain speaking, real comments from ordinary people who were obviously looking for the same thing from the candidates.

The people know what they want, and it isn’t another load of horse manure.

Quite frankly, early on in the spectacle, it looked like reruns of NCIS would have been a better choice of entertainment.

Except that the actors finally said “This script sucks, and we aren’t performing it anymore.”

Like him or hate him, Ted Cruz had the moment of the night, closely followed by Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee. (If you actually did decide to watch NCIS, watch the inevitable sound bites or the whole thing on rerun.)

And it played well in Peoria. After roundly booing the moderators earlier, the physical audience erupted in spontaneous and fervent approval when Cruz articulated what was patently obvious to anyone watching at home. Twitter exploded in similar fashion.

This media hit job wasn’t going to work anymore.

A similar result occurred when Marco Rubio stated that the MSM was the largest super-PAC supporting Hillary Clinton and when Christie took on the incredibly inane topic of regulating fantasy football.

The obvious disdain the MSM has for the American voter was on full display, as evidenced by how poorly the moderators did in the area of fact-checking, even  repeating talking points that they themselves had been forced to retract earlier.

They obviously thought that their audience wouldn’t catch it, and that the candidate (specifically Rubio on the subject of the scoring of his tax plan) wouldn’t dare to question the misinformation.

That’s contempt on full display. It plays into the narrative that voters are too “uneducated” to handle real facts.

It also highlighted the circumstances under which Republicans can play well together and adapt to the moment.

The whole tenor and energy of the debate changed when Cruz challenged the moderators.

As far as finding out a lot about each candidates economic and fiscal policy,  there were some nuggets, but the real story turned out not to be about that at all.

There will be another debate on November 10, hosted by the Fox Business channel, and that one too is billed as a business, i.e. financial and fiscal policy themed event.

It is to be hoped that one will be somewhat more informative.

Make no mistake. These debates should be about challenging each candidate to explain and validate their policies.

We are less than 100 days from the first primary contests and if the contestants haven’t put any thought into their platform by now, and refined the message the people want to hear enough to communicate it to an audience, shame on them.

Whatever the storyboards for the next debate looked like before today, we can only hope the media got the message last night.

Tough questions, OK. “Gotcha” entertainment…not so much.

From → op-ed

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