October 28, 2015: The Day The American News Media Died

Wednesday's Republican debate was perfect.  

It wasn't perfect for its substance because that would require candidates to actually have a working knowledge of what they were talking about.  It wasn't perfect for civility because, well, it had Donald Trump.  It wasn't perfect for its appeal as it was the least-viewed debate to date.  It wasn't perfect in that people's opinions of candidates was particularly altered by one single debate performance.  No, instead it was perfect for one simple, undeniable reason:  

It proved our media is worthless.  

In a debate that was theoretically supposed to focus on all ten Republican candidates' views on the economy, we instead got non-answers, generic talking points, personal attacks, outright lies, and misguided anger and frustration.  One day later, the results of the debate have focused on everything from the Jeb!/Rubio spat to Ben Carson's and Carly Fiorina's lies to Chris Christie and Ted Cruz' refusal to answer questions and instead use their time to attack the moderators.  Candidates and their staffs have already done the typical post-debate spin in an effort to justify their debate performance.  Emails have been sent asking supporters to contribute financially.  It has been less than 24 hours and already we are moving away from the actual purpose of the debate:  Economic issues.  

Which is why our media is garbage.

Today's media lives in a oooh-look-shiny-object world.  They cover anything that makes news.  They ignore things that don't.  Last night's debate showed this one two fronts:  The debate itself and the ensuing reaction to the debate.  The debate itself was terrible on many fronts, led by the fact that it was the candidates themselves who set the tone.  The very first question of the debate was a simple job interview question that all of us have had at some point:  Name your biggest weakness.  Oddly enough, the only candidate to legitimately answer the question was the son of one president and the brother of another.  The other nine candidates instead chose to use the question to use one of their predetermined talking points.  Despite some initial attempts by the moderators to steer the candidates back on course, none of them sans Jeb! actually answered the question as it was intended.

And so it became apparent that the moderators from CNBC were going to be in for a long night.  Unfortunately, they had neither the aptitude nor the attitude to conduct a proper debate.  It started with the very first question when Carl Quintanilla stated some of Donald Trump's absurd policies ideas and then asked if this was a "comic book version of a presidential campaign?"  The Donald, who Quintanilla should have known gets his feelings hurt quite easily, stated this "wasn't a very nicely asked question" before giving his non-answer answer.  Rather than press him on the issue, Quintanilla moved on.  

However, this one question set the tone for the debate and Quintanilla in particular.  Later on, Ted Cruz was asked his first question of the night about what kind of problem solver he would be despite his past insurrections against the United States government.  Rather than address that question, Cruz opted instead to take his allotted 90 seconds for a diatribe on media bias.  In a soundbite that would end up being broadcast throughout Breitbart Country, Cruz decided to be "that guy" and use the night's previous questions as an example of a liberal media bias.  Because according to Ted Cruz, asking Donald Trump about his unrealistic policies, or Ben Carson about his tax plan, or John Kasich's about his previous attacks on his opponents, or about Marco Rubio's and his inexperience, or about Jeb! Bush and his floundering campaign are clear examples of a liberal bias.  

Once Cruz got off his soap box, it was essentially game over for the moderators.  Chris Christie refused to answer a question on fantasy sports betting because he had other talking points, er, I mean, because that issue had nothing to do with suffering American families.  The Donald was asked by moderator Becky Quick about his calling Marco Rubio "Mark Zuckerberg's personal senator" a claim that Trump immediately denied by stating it was factually incorrect.  Quick apologized and moved on.  However, after returning from a commercial break Quick returned to the question and stated she found the quote on Trump's personal webpage.  Despite this new revelation, Trump again ignored the question and got back into his comfort zone with his set talking points.  

For the first time this campaign season, someone was attacked more than Hillary Clinton and that person was the liberal media.  Yes, on this night Republican candidates were united in the fact that our "biased" media was the most important economic issue facing our country today.  Never mind the fact that CNBC was a terrible choice to begin with and did not have sufficient experience hosting presidential debates.  Never mind the fact that RNC Chair Reince Priebus blamed the network for the debate debacle despite the fact that he was the one who scheduled all 9 Republican debates.  No, no.  This nationally-televised debate giving candidates free exposure to 14 million people while not even attempting to answer questions about the American economy clearly showcased a liberal media bias.  

That was the takeaway from last night's debate.  

To be honest, last night and today's fallout is exactly what we as a nation needed.  We needed a wake-up call as to how bad our media has become.  We got that and so much more.  We got a network in CNBC that was grossly unprepared to host a presidential debate.  A network that attempted to create unnecessary drama to boost its debate ratings.  A network that refused to fact-check candidates and wasn't able to cite its sources.  It was gleefully ironic that when all was said and done it was CNBC themselves, a network accustomed to covering the news, that became the news.  

Other news organizations were then able to use CNBC's botched debate to boost their own ratings.  The CNN's, Fox's, NBC's, ABC's, and CBS's of the world were running to track down candidates today.  Jeb! do you regret your decision to  attack Marco?  Donald, what is your true stance on immigration?  Carly, would you be willing to correct your factually incorrect statements about women in the workforce?  Ben, are you aware there is a YouTube video of you endorsing your controversial supplement?  It's has been like a free-for-all today with all the networks circling the Republican candidates like sharks, just waiting to try and get some kind of follow-up from last night's debate.  Add to that our friends at Fox News who have been screaming media bias from the hilltops for nearly 20 years and you've the perfect ingredients for a media feeding frenzy.  

And yet, here it is:  A perfect 24-hour example of why the American news media is worthless.  Nowhere on the news, online, or the radio have we heard a single word about the Republican candidates' utter lack of economic policy knowledge.  Or the fact that Ben Carson doesn't know how the debt ceiling works.  Or the fact that Donald Trump's tax plan would cost $12 trillion over the next decade.  Or the fact that Marco Rubio's tax plan favors the rich over the middle class.  Or the fact that the number of women in the workforce actually increased during Obama's first term as opposed to what Carly Fiorina would have you believe about the administration's efforts to help women.  

Those are the conversations we should be having today.  But of course, we aren't.  Because economic policy is boring.  Nobody cares about how or why our economy works or how we tax people or pay our bills.  It doesn't have that certain ja ne sais quoi if you will.  Sure, there was a time when the fact that a candidate didn't know basic economic policy would hurt him but those were the days before Super PACs.  That was a time before we had a 24/7 cable news cycle where we could pick our news based on our worldview.  It doesn't matter that none of the Republicans put forth an even somewhat viable economic plan.  What matters is the liberal media and their disgraceful attempt to anoint Hillary as the next president of the United States.

So as the fallout continues from last night debate debacle, we all should enjoy it.  We should enjoy the fact that this is what our nation has become:  A country incapable of informing its own citizenry.  We have reached the point where our mainstream media news is nothing more than an extension of a reality show.  Hell, we've even got a host in Donald Trump.  Between last night's debate and today's subsequent media coverage, we all have a perfect example of how worthless our news media has become.  Lazy, inept, corrupt, you name it.  Our media has failed us time and time again and nowhere was that failure more apparent than at a presidential debate on October 28, 2015.  

For those of us that value our news as see it as vital to a democracy, it is a day that will live in infamy. 

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