In order to get at the golden eggs, the National Broadcasting Company has cut open the goose laying them.
Following Wednesday night’s embarrassing sham of a “debate” performance by CNBC moderators, at which I was a front-row attendee, Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee have announced the intention to suspend (political speak for “YOU’RE FIRED!!“) the next scheduled debate on the NBC network which was to occur on February 26.
In a letter made public by the RNC, Priebus makes no effort to conceal his distaste for the moderators performance Wednesday night, behavior which has been widely panned by pundits on both the left and right. The letter addressed to Mr. Andrew Lack Chairman, NBC News reads in part,
“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.”
“While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of “gotcha” questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates.”
As an attendee seated a matter of feet from the moderator’s table I can personally attest to the fact that the “gotcha” questions came fast and furious. What exactly is a “gotcha” question one might ask? This exchange between moderator Carl Quintanilla and Donald Trump is a picture perfect example. This text is taken directly from the debate transcripts:
QUINTANILLA: Mr. Trump, you’ve said you have a special permit to carry a gun in New York.
QUINTANILLA: After the Oregon mass shooting on October 1st, you said, “By the way, it was a gun-free zone. If you had a couple of teachers with guns, you would have been a hell of a lot better off.”
TRUMP: Or somebody else. Right.
QUINTANILLA: Would you feel more comfortable if your employees brought guns to work?
TRUMP: Yes, I might feel more comfortable. I would say that I would and I have a permit, which is very unusual in New York — a permit to carry. And I do carry on occasion, sometimes a lot. But I like to be unpredictable so that people don’t know exactly… (LAUGHTER)
QUINTANILLA: Are you carrying one now?
TRUMP: By the way, unlike our country where we’re totally predictable and the enemy, whether it’s ISIS or anybody else, they know exactly what we’re doing because we have the wrong leadership.
But I feel that the gun-free zones and, you know, when you say that, that’s target practice for the sickos and for the mentally ill. That’s target. They look around for gun-free zones. You know, we could give you another example — the Marines, the Army, these wonderful six soldiers that were killed. Two of them were among the most highly decorated — they weren’t allowed on a military base to have guns. And somebody walked in and shot them, killed them. If they had guns, he wouldn’t be around very long. I can tell you, there wouldn’t have been much damage.
So, I think gun-free zones are a catastrophe. They’re a feeding frenzy for sick people.
QUINTANILLA: We called a few Trump resorts, a few Trump properties that — that do not allow guns with or without a permit. Would you change those policies?
TRUMP: I would change them. I would change them.
QUINTANILLA: OK. All right. Thank you.
See how that worked? Quintanilla and/or NBC staffers had already contacted Trump properties and gotten the information that they did not allow guns on-site. Hence the idea was to hold that jack of spades beneath the table, bait Trump into saying he’s not in favor of “gun free buildings”, then once he’s said it whip ‘ole one-eye’d Jack out and make the candidate look like a hypocritical fool.
In this case it didn’t work and was a sophomoric ploy to begin with. Donald Trump does not manage nor make day-to-day policies for the properties he owns. He either buys the hotels or buys the dirt and builds them. Once erect, he’s on to other things. He’s not in touch with the day-to-day operations and management rules of each and every property he’s built or owns.
If CNBC is going to engage in shady attempts to shame candidates, they should at least be good at it. But they weren’t. They were inept at best. And their ineptness just cost them.
The three Republican debates to date have been ratings juggernauts. CNBC’s Wednesday night debate drew a record number of viewers to the network. Over 14 million people tuned in. That’s huge for the flailing business channel. CNBC’s prior viewership high was 3.9 million viewers set in 2002 during Winter Olympics coverage. And at 14 million CNBC’s numbers were well short of the debates on Fox News in August (24 million viewers) and CNN in September (23 million.) According to an NBCUniversal source CNBC was selling 30-second ads during the debate for a cool $250,000. For a network with about 17 viewers, that’s a lot of cheddar.
With interest in the Republican primary this high and with a bevy of personalities who –even if one wouldn’t think of voting for them– make for darn compelling TV, it stands to reason that a debate in late February when campaigns are hitting hard and the claws are coming out, will draw significantly higher ratings than these. Meaning significantly higher ad prices. But poor NBC will just have to sit on the sidelines and dream of what could’ve been.
He is a sought after speaker/presenter, and is also a renown author and columnist, contributing columns and editorials to the Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Common Sense News. He can also be read nationally on American Thinker, Allen B. West and the Tea Party News Network.