Bad faith cited and taking to the twitter-verse today, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus announced a “partnership” suspension with NBC News following the most recent GOP candidate debate held in Boulder, Colorado on Wednesday evening.
Linking from the tweet to his full letter addressed to Andrew Lack of NBC News (see letter here), Chairman Priebus states that “pending further discussion” the previously scheduled February 26, 2016 Republican primary debate partnership with NBC at the University of Houston is suspended. “The RNC’s sole role in the primary debate process is to ensure that our candidates are given a full and fair opportunity to lay out their vision for America’s future.,” Priebus stated. “We simply cannot continue with NBC without full consultation with our campaigns. The CNBC network is one of your media properties, and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith. We understand that NBC does not exercise full editorial control over CNBC’s journalistic approach. However, the network is an arm of your organization, and we need to ensure there is not a repeat performance.”
Additionally, Priebus told Lack that “CNBC billed the debate as one that would focus on ‘the key issues that matter to all voters—job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy.’ That was not the case. Before the debate, the candidates were promised an opening question on economic or financial matters. That was not the case. Candidates were promised that speaking time would be carefully monitored to ensure fairness. That was not the case. Questions were inaccurate or downright offensive. The first question directed to one of our candidates asked if he was running a comic book version of a presidential campaign, hardly in the spirit of how the debate was billed.”
Mod questions ‘absolutely embarrassing’
Much has been said regarding the perceived bias of the CNBC moderators. Especially telling is the remark from an NBC colleage, Joe Scarborough, who is quoted in an Associated Press story written by David Bauder and repeated by CBS46. Bauder wrote that CNBC moderator John Harwood’s question to candidate Donald Trump was called “absolutely embarrassing” by Scarborough who hosts MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Harwood’s question to Trump: “You’ve done very well on 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?”
Trump’s reply was polite. He called it “not a very nicely asked question,” and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a University of Pennsylvania communications professor and debate expert, believes Harwood’s last sentence “ruined what could have been a useful question,” according to Bauder’s review of the matter. Further, Bauder quotes Professor Jamieson as stating that “[i]t sounds to the audience as if one is spinning the question in a way that presupposes the candidate’s candidacy is illegitimate.”
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey perhaps summed up the frustration candidates felt onstage with moderator behavior best after hearing Carlos Quintanilla’s “fantasy football” question which former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush actually got before he did. Bush went ahead and answered it, and then he tried to move it towards a more substantive question on government regulation of the phenomenon which he said “… is day trading without any regulation at all. And when you have insider information, which apparently has been the case, where people use that information and use big data to try to take advantage of it, there has to be some regulation.”
Gov. Christie got applause for this reply: “Carl, are we really talking about getting government involved in fantasy football? We have — wait a second, we have $19 trillion in debt. We have people out of work. We have ISIS and al Qaeda attacking us. And we’re talking about fantasy football? Can we stop?”
A more relevant financial question came from CNBC Moderator Beverly Quick later when she asked Senator Ted Cruz about unequal pay. “Senator Cruz, working women in this country still earn just 77 percent of what men earn. And I know that you’ve said you’ve been very sympathetic to our cause. But you’ve also you said that the Democrats’ moves to try and change this are the political show votes. I just wonder what you would do as President to try and help in this cause?”
Senator Cruz, in his answer, said “[w]ell, we’ve gotta turn the economy around for people who are struggling. The Democrats’ answer to everything is more government control over wages, and more empowering trial lawyers to file lawsuits. You know, you look at women working. I’ll tell you, in my family there are a lot of single moms in my family. My sister was a single mom, both of my aunts who were a single moms. My mom who’s here today, was a single mom when my father left us when I was 3 years old.”
Cruz then took a good shot and hit the Democratic opposition hard. “And you know, when you see Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and all the Democrats talking about wanting to address the plight of working women, not a one of them mentioned the fact that under Barack Obama, 3.7 million women have entered poverty. Not a one of them mentioned the fact that under Barack Obama and the big government economy, the median wage for women has dropped $733. The the truth of the matter is, big government benefits the wealthy, it benefits the lobbyists, it benefits the giant corporations. And the people who are getting hammered are small businesses, it’s single moms, it’s Hispanics. That is who I’m fighting for. The people that Washington leaves behind.”
Carly Fiorina then took her cue and aimed another blow at Candidate Hillary Clinton. “Becky, it is the height of hypocrisy for Mrs. Clinton to talk about being the first woman President, when every single policy she espouses, and every single policy of President Obama has been demonstrably bad for women. 92 percent — 92 percent of the jobs lost during Barack Obama’s first term belonged to women. Senator Cruz is precisely right. Three million women have fallen into poverty under this administration. The number of women —(Quick tried to interrupt but Fiorina finished her statements anyway) living in extreme poverty is the highest level on record. I am a conservative because I know our values, our principles and our policies —(Quick interrupted again, Fiorina finished her sentence though) — work better to lift everyone up, men and women.”
CNBC moderator Quintanilla turned to Dr. Ben Carson to ask the next question. “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?”
Carson hits ‘PC culture’
“Well, obviously, you don’t understand my views on homosexuality,” replied Dr. Carson. “I believe that our Constitution protects everybody, regardless of their sexual orientation or any other aspect. I also believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. And there is no reason that you can’t be perfectly fair to the gay community. They shouldn’t automatically assume that because you believe that marriage is between one man and one woman that you are a homophobe. And this is one of the myths that the left perpetrates on our society, and this is how they frighten people and get people to shut up. You know, that’s what the PC culture is all about, and it’s destroying this nation. The fact of the matter is we the American people are not each other’s enemies, it’s those people who are trying to divide us who are the enemies. And we need to make that very clear to everybody.”
When the same moderator tried to hit Dr. Carson over a website for nutritional supplements that posted a picture of the famous neurosurgeon and stated that Carson had “a 10-year relationship” with the company and wanted to know “why,” the good doctor objected. “Well, that’s easy to answer. I didn’t have an involvement with them. That is total propaganda, and this is what happens in our society. Total propaganda. I did a couple of speeches for them, I do speeches for other people. They were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of a relationship with them. Do I take the product? Yes. I think it’s a good product.”
The moderator continued. “To be fair, you were on the homepage of their website with the logo over your shoulder —” and Dr, Carson replied again “If somebody put me on their homepage, they did it without my permission.” Quintanilla got a lot of boos from the crow watching when he tried to link that with this statement: “Does that not speak to your vetting process … “As the boos came on from the crowd watching Carson simply answered. “See? They know.”
Senator Marco Rubio then got an immigration question from moderator Harwood. “Senator Rubio, Wired magazine recently carried the heading, “Marco Rubio wants to be the tech industry’s savior.” It noted your support for dramatically increasing immigration visas called H1B, which are designed for workers with the special skills that Silicon Valley wants. But your Senate colleague, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, says in reality, the tech industry uses this program to undercut hiring and wages for highly qualified Americans. Why is he wrong?”
“Well, first of all, if a company gets caught doing that, they should never be able to use the program again. If you get caught abusing this program, you should never be able to use it again,” Rubio said. “The second thing I said is we need to add reforms, not just increase the numbers, but add reforms. For example, before you hire anyone from abroad, you should have to advertise that job for 180 days. You also have to prove that you’re going to pay these people more than you would pay someone else, so that you’re not undercutting it by bringing in cheap labor.”
Senator Rubio gave a solution then. “But here’s the best solution of all. We need to get back to training people in this country to do the jobs of the 21st century. Why, for the life of me, I do not understand why did we stop doing vocational education in America, people that can work with their hands; people you can train to do this work while they’re still in high school so they can graduate ready to go work. But the best way to close this gap is to modernize higher education so Americans have the skills for those jobs. But in the interim, in the absence of that, what’s happening is some of these tech companies are taking those — those centers … to Canada because they can get people to go over there instead of here. But the ideal scenario is to train Americans to do the work so we don’t have to rely on people from abroad.”
CNBC’s Becky Quick then got into a humorous dialog with Donald Trump. “Mr. Trump, let’s stay on this issue of immigration. You have been very critical of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook who has wanted to increase the number of these H1Bs.” Trump disagreed with her statement.
“I was not at all critical of him,” answered the businessman. “I was not at all. In fact, frankly, he’s complaining about the fact that we’re losing some of the most talented people. They go to Harvard. They go to Yale. They go to Princeton. They come from another country and they’re immediately sent out. I am all in favor of keeping these talented people here so they can go to work in Silicon Valley. So I have nothing at all critical of him.”
The somewhat surprised moderator then asked Trump a question. “Where did I read this and come up with this that you were…” to which Trump simply answered “[p]robably, I don’t know — you people write the stuff. I don’t know where you…” to laughter from the crowd.
Huckabee’s governmental metaphor
Former Governor Mike Huckabee arguably had the best response to a question about income inequality. “Governor Huckabee, you have railed against income inequality,” said Quick. “You’ve said that some Wall Street executives should have gone to jail over the roles that they played during the financial crisis. Apart from your tax plan, are there specific steps you would require from corporate America to try and reduce the income inequality.”
Huckabee used the metaphor of recent news. The suddenly escaped NORAD blimp in the news Wednesday, which meant two F-16 fighter jets had to scramble after to monitor. The military surveillance blimp floated off and took out power lines with its long tether and caused power outages in its unsafe escape.
“I don’t think it’s so much about when the government orders a corporation to do something. In fact, that’s part of the problem,” replied Huckabee. “If you saw that blimp that got cut loose from Maryland today, it’s a perfect example of government. I mean, what we had was something the government made — basically a bag of gas — that cut loose, destroyed everything in its path, left thousands of people powerless, but they couldn’t get rid of it because we had too much money invested in it, so we had to keep it. That is our government today. We saw it in the blimp.”
For a transcript of this debate, please see the story at Time.)