Part 4—Prelude to last week's debate: In this morning's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer shares one conservative's view of last week's presidential debate.
In Krauthammer's view, the moderators of the debate were obnoxious and incompetent. On the whole, we're inclined to agree.
He says the moderators handed the GOP a gift. We're inclined to see it that way too.
How did Krauthammer view the debate? We think it's worth recording his outlook in some detail:
KRAUTHAMMER (11/6/15): The CNBC debate was a gift for the GOP, so unadorned a demonstration of liberal condescension, hostility and arrogance that the rest of the media—their ideological cover exposed—were forced to denounce and ridicule their ham-handed colleagues."CNBC produced the best night of the entire campaign season for the GOP," Krauthammer said as he continued.
The party is demanding there be no repetition of the CNBC debate. Why, for God’s sake? That debate was the best thing to happen to the GOP since Michael Dukakis.
John Harwood’s obnoxiousness and Becky Quick’s incompetence earned most of the opprobrium heaped on the moderators’ performance. But it was Carl Quintanilla who demonstrated just how unmoored liberal delusions about conservatives have become. He asked Ben Carson how, as an opponent of same-sex marriage, he could remain on the board of a company that is known for its generous treatment of gay employees. Quintanilla seemed genuinely unable to fathom that one can oppose the most radical change in the structure of marriage in human history—as Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama all did just a few years ago—without wanting to see gay people persecuted and denied decent treatment by their employers.
Krauthammer states a second view in his column. He thinks the GOP undermined this gift from CNBC by complaining too much post-debate.
"Within a week they so overplayed their hand as to dissipate whatever sympathetic advantage they gained," Krauthammer says. He says the GOP's excessive complaining "allowed the liberal media to turn the tables and play defenders of journalistic independence against GOP bullies."
There's no doubt that some liberal pundits adopted that heroic stance, edging away from initial criticisms of the CNBC panel. We'll consider that pundit behavior tomorrow. For today, we'll focus on the journalistic performance of the debate's moderators, whose number ranged from three to six depending on how you count.
In fairness, the moderators faced a daunting task. Ten different candidates stood before them on a wide debate stage. Meanwhile, CNBC had assembled a starting lineup which featured three different moderators.
Traffic-wise, this could produce a mess. The inherent confusion only grew as three additional CNBC stars took brief turns asking questions.
These relief pitchers included Jim Cramer and Rick Santelli, perhaps to convince Republican viewers that the channel's leading crazies weren't being completely avoided.
At any rate, ten candidates faced six moderators! What could possibly go wrong?
Answer: A lot could go wrong! Indeed, we tend to agree with some of Krauthammer's assessments.
We think Harwood actually was a bit obnoxious and that Quick really did seem a bit incompetent. Or was she simply kissing ascot at times? We haven't seen a preface to a question like this since the press corps fawned to Saint McCain during Campaign 2000, endlessly reciting the fact that he was a straight-shooting straight-talker straight from The Straight Talk Express:
QUICK (10/28/15): Governor Christie, I'd like to come to you with a question. Actually, I have a question for you.Journalistically speaking, you probably shouldn't recite a candidate's slogans for him as you deliver his very first question! Assuming good faith, that highlighted statement represents astounding journalistic cluelessness. That said, it plainly doesn't stem from some deep pool of liberal bias.
In your tell-it-like-it-is campaign, you've said a lot of tough things. You've said that we need to raise the retirement age for Social Security. You think that we need to cut benefits for people who make over $80,000 and eliminate them entirely for seniors who are making over $200,000...
Were the moderators hobbled by "unmoored liberal delusions?" Krauthammer makes a reasonable point about that gopher ball from Quintanilla, which Carson quickly knocked out of the park.
On the whole, though, the moderators didn't necessarily seem to be working from liberal bias. They also didn't stage a substantive debate, despite what liberal apologists and potential colleagues would soon be claiming.
To the contrary! On the whole, we'd say the moderators worked from a form of "plutocrat bias" in the basic way they proceeded. We'd also say it's astounding that liberals like Ezra Klein and even Kevin Drum were somehow unable to see that fact, or were unwilling to say it.
Did CNBC's gang of corporate hirelings produce a substantive evening? Crackers, please! We'd say they conducted a flight from substance as they fumbled their way, scattershot-style, through their two-hour program.
Consider the way the evening began. Consider the way the moderators refused to structure the task before them.
Good God! On the stage stood a collection of candidates who have offered the craziest set of budget proposals in the nation's long history. Indeed, one of the candidates, Candidate Kasich, had made that very point, exactly one day earlier.
Candidate Kasich had seen enough! Setting the stage for the big debate, this is what he said:
KASICH (10/27/15): Do you know how crazy this election is?For the record, Kasich also said it's "crazy" to say "we ought to take 10 million or 11 million people" and remove them from the country.
Let me tell you something, I've about had it with these people. And let me tell you why.
We got one candidate that says that we ought to abolish Medicaid and Medicare. You ever heard of anything so crazy as that? Telling our people in this country who are seniors, or about to be seniors, that we're going to abolish Medicaid and Medicare?
We've got one person saying we ought to have a 10 percent flat tax that will drive up the deficit in this country by trillions of dollars that my daughters will spend the rest of their lives having to pay off.
You know, what I say to them is, Why don't we have no taxes? Just get rid of them all, and then a chicken in every pot on top of it?
That is just crazy. We got people proposing health care reform that's going to leave, I believe, millions of people without adequate health insurance.
Set Candidate Trump's immigration proposal to the side. Just for now, forget about Medicare and Medicaid and health care "reform" in general.
For now, let's consider those tax cut proposals, which Kasich described as "crazy." Let's start with a basic point:
On their face, those proposals do seem to be crazy! But how lucky! In theory, they fit right into CNBC's wheelhouse since the channel specializes in business, economics, finance.
What makes those tax cut proposals seem, on their face, to be crazy? Crackers! In Campaign 2000, Candidate Bush ran on what was taken to be a very large tax cut proposal. As proposed, it would have reduced federal taxes by $1.6 trillion over its first ten years of operation (2002 through 2011).
That plan was considered gigantic. But according to standard tax analysis, Candidate Trump's crazy-seeming proposal would reduce federal taxes by as much as $11 trillion! That's six to seven times as large as Bush's very large plan!
On its face, that tax cut proposal seems to be utterly crazy, basically stark raving mad. Other proposals seem at least as strange, including Candidate Carson's original plan for a single ten percent tax rate, based on Biblical tithing!
(For more about the tax cut proposals, see Josh Barro's preview of the debate for the New York Times.)
On their face, the budget proposals of these candidates seem to be stark raving mad. Luckily, there stood the CNBC Three or Six, fearless representatives of a financial news channel!
Surely, the CNBC Three or Six would seek to bring clarity out of this mess! Surely, they would examine those very strange tax cut proposals before moving on to the candidates' tell-it-like-it-is proposals for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
In fact, the moderators did no such thing that night. Tomorrow, we'll review what they actually did, and we'll ask you how any serious liberal could have called their work "substantive."
Kasich railed against Carson and Trump. We'll suggest you should do the same with respect to your tribe's leading pundits, none of whom have deigned to tell you what CNBC actually did.
Tomorrow: What "plutocrat bias" looks like
Four parts now. Five if you count the prequel "Bloggers Thoughts While Passing South on a Train."ReplyDelete
There has still been more coverage of Bush's proposal in 2000 than on any of the proposals Somerby has himself called "crazy."
And Bob's readers are still left in the dark about that second question.
SOMERBY (Part 3): "Despite the porridge you've been fed by apologists like Ezra Klein, William Saletan and even Kevin Drum, Becky Quick had no intention of probing the ludicrous budget plans those candidates have proposed."
BECKY QUICK (2nd Question): BECKY QUICK: Dr. Carson, let’s talk about taxes. You have a flat tax plan of 10 percent flat taxes, and — I’ve looked at it — and this is something that is very appealing to a lot of voters, but I’ve had a really tough time trying to make the math work on this. If you were to take a 10 percent tax, with the numbers right now in total personal income, you’re going to bring in $1.5 trillion. That is less than half of what we bring in right now. And by the way, it’s going to leave us in a $2 trillion hole. So what analysis got you to the point where you think this will work?"
Either Quick was unconscious and asked an unintentional question or Somerby is a liar. It is that simple fans.
Will anyone argue from worms?Delete
This series has tooooo many parts, waaaahhh!Delete
Whereas this series -- as I said -- has far too many parts -- 4 or 5 just so far -- it in contrast only takes one(!!!) question to "prove" Becky Quick Really Did Probe that Carson budget. Oooh, she probed it real good!
So many words as well. There should be a limit. Can someone get an accurate count?Delete
Lord, Somerby's few remaining fans are idiots.Delete
Isn't that the truth? 11:44 catches their guru in a bald-faced lie, and they act like giggly two-year-olds.Delete
This comment has been removed by the author.Delete
This comment has been removed by the author.Delete
Bob wrote: ...the moderators didn't necessarily seem to be working from liberal bias.... On the whole, we'd say the moderators worked from a form of "plutocrat bias" in the basic way they proceededReplyDelete
I think Bob is referring more to the motivation for the moderators' behavior, rather than how they behaved. Of course, inner motivation can only be a guess. FWIW I don't agree with his guess. I think the moderators really do think badly of conservatives and conservative policy.
Even if Bob is correct, I don't think the motivation for the unequal treatment matters much. Suppose you're an employer and you treat your black employees unequally. That constitutes racial bias. Now suppose you have no animus at all toward blacks. Suppose the only reason you treat blacks less well is because you're a plutocrat. That non-racial motive doesn't excuse your racism -- neither legally nor morally.
P.S. another way to see that the moderators are politically biased is the "duck test": If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
Plutocrats and liberals may agree on many things, but that does not make plutocrats into liberals. So believing that the goals of the moderators was to disrespect conservatives (in favor of liberal values) is too simplistic. Similarly, cheating your black employees just because you can, is not racism, but simple greed. Determining motivation is not easy and Bob usually avoids saying that he knows what motivates peoples actions, but he is certainly is entitled to his opinion. As you are. But don't mix up your opinion with fact.Delete
the trait of being plutocratic does not in and of itself cause unequal treatment of people with dark skin.Delete
"Journalistically speaking, you probably shouldn't recite a candidate's slogans for him as you deliver his very first question!"ReplyDelete
So says Bob Somerby, who, having lied about Becky Quick asking about the tax and budget plans of candidates, then misleads about the quotaton from her he attacks in the line above.
How does he mislead? Instead of it "kissing ascot" as Somerby calls it, Quick was leading into a tough question for Christie. Here is what Somerby deliberately left out:
"Governor Huckabee, who is here on the stage, has said that you and others who think this way are trying to rob seniors of the benefits that they’ve earned. It raises the question: When it is acceptable to break a social compact?"
Bob Somerby, always working on his disappearing act in case a magic career beckons.
I actually watched the debate, and didn't find the questions any more idiotic or "condescending" - liberal or otherwise - than many other debates i've watched over the last 20 or so years. They all tend to have stupid questions, mixed in with more pertinent ones.ReplyDelete
What was interesting was how the candidates, rather than answering the questions, deflected them by claiming the questions were unfair. Like how Cruz turned Quick's excellent questions about Carson's budget plan to claims she was asking: "Ben Carson can do you do math?"
Naturally media GOP mouthpieces, like Krauthammer, quickly picked up that meme.
Bob of course is confused about the whole thing....
Quick did not ask Carson an excellent question about his budget plan.Delete
Despite the porridge you've been fed by apologists like Ezra Klein, William Saletan and even Kevin Drum, Becky Quick had no intention of probing the ludicrous budget plans those candidates have proposed
3:29, the exchange is below at Anon 3:12. That's about as excellent and substantive questioning you'll see at a debate, especially one with so many candidates.Delete
You and other apologists for the "liberal bias media" will now probably attack Bob over the "plutocrat bias media" since he is changing terms perhaps to better reflect his differences with Ted Cruz and Charles Krauthammer.Delete
I read the exchange at 3:12 below and would like a Bob 'splainer (because, dear god, his rants need 'splaing) to explain what exactly is the problem with it?Delete
She had facts, and more facts and Carson's plan was revealed to be no plan at all.
If what she did is a sign of "plutocrat bias media" i say more please.
The explanation is simple. Despite the porridge you've been fed by apologists like Ezra Klein, William Saletan and even Kevin Drum, Becky Quick had no intention of probing the ludicrous budget plans those candidates have proposed.Delete
Here's the exchange between Quick and Carson. Quick was excellent, Carson's responses were pathetic.ReplyDelete
Quick: "You have a flat tax plan of 10 percent flat taxes. This is something that is very appealing to a lot of voters, but I've had a really tough time trying to make the math work on this. If you were to take a 10 percent tax, with the numbers right now in total personal income, you're gonna bring in $1.5 trillion. That is less than half of what we bring in right now. And by the way, it's gonna leave us in a $2 trillion hole. So what analysis got you to the point where you think this will work?"
CARSON: The rate — the rate — the rate is gonna be much closer to 15 percent.
QUICK: 15 percent still leaves you with a $1.1 trillion hole.
CARSON: You also have to get rid of all the deductions and all the loopholes. You also have to some strategically cutting in several places.
Remember, we have 645 federal agencies and sub-agencies. Anybody who tells me that we need every penny and every one of those is in a fantasy world.
So, also, we can stimulate the economy. That's gonna be the real growth engine. Stimulating the economy — because it's tethered down right now with so many regulations...
QUICK: You'd have to cut — you'd have to cut government about 40 percent to make it work with a $1.1 trillion hole.
CARSON: That's not true.
QUICK: That is true, I looked at the numbers.
CARSON: When — when we put all the facts down, you'll be able to see that it's not true, it works out very well.
The candidates clami "The media is picking on us, and not asking substantive questions." The candidates assume we're fools....
The exchange between Carson and Quick isn't the best we can hope for.ReplyDelete
It hardly qualifies as probing, informed and excellent on the part of Quick.
But I understand -- you have a very low bar, you're a MediaFan.
Back when we had gatekeepers Q & A sessions went a little differently. [LINK]Delete
CMike, I love you for that.Delete
Anonymous @ 5:24 let me grant your judgement that Quick's question wasn't the best. That doesn't mean she did not try. Which is what Bob said happened. And to say that he had to disappear her question altogether. Which is something he rails against other writers for doing.Delete
He practices dishonest journalism.
Uh oh! Now you've done it! The Bob groupies will jump on your last sentence, focusing on "journalism" and disappearing "dishonest."Delete
You see, their repeated defense of their buck-naked emperor is that he is not a "journalist." He is a "blogger."
Thus he is always exempt from practicing that of which he demands of "journalists."
Things like honesty.
Well, so winds up another relentlessly silly series of posts from "The Daily Howler."ReplyDelete
Way back when all this started, Bob pointed out that Mario Rubio smeared Hillary Clinton with a ridiculous accusation that was bullshit on the face of it. He was right! Did anyone on the liberally bias panel challenge him? Has ANYONE in the liberal media? Nope. Some liberally biased panel.
Given the charges of trump and others, we would want, I think, to go back and see if Hillary Clinton was asked and stupid, unfair or condescending questions by Anderson Cooper. But nobody did, because of course She was! I don't remember Bob's new soulmate Charles Krauthhammer, one of the stupidest and most dishonest people walking the face of the earth, objecting then!
One of the panel seemed to suggest Donald Trump's campaign represented a sort of new low in idiocy in our infotainment world. Bob has suggested such a notion himself. But it was horrible to suggest something like this out in the open, because a conservative might not see it that way!
Pastor Bob is less concerned with what a Donald Trump might due to the country than that we might offend a Cicero or some other hapless soul whose contempt for America is lusty enough that he welcomes such campaigns in his party. Pastor Bob thinks we might win over such people by being real respectful to them. Except when he doesn't think so.
Hillary Clinton is going to win big but by that time The Daily Howler will have soiled his pants so often it will be wearing depends.
He just has a few readers who are idiots so it's not a problem.Delete
Lots of people went back to compare the questions asked in the Democratic debate with those asked in the Republican debate, finding them similar both in silliness and snark.Delete
Somerby is concerned about attracting independent and undecided voters, not Cicero. He thinks that framing issues in ways that don't repel such voters is a better idea than alienating them by calling them names or implying they are stupid.
I encounter a lot of politically conservative people in my daily life. They are nice people when not talking politics. They are not bigots in any obvious way, not stereotypical undereducated know-nothings (like Honey Boo-Boo's mom or the pawnshop reality stars) but middle-class well-intentioned people trying to raise their families and get by. I don't understand how they can be conservative but I also don't see them as anything like Cicero or even David in CA. I think Somerby knows such people too and is wondering how to change their minds, since there is no obvious reason why they should be voting against their own interests, for people who will not help them in their lives.
Somerby seems to think that clearer explanations of financial policy and issues affecting people will attract such voters and he thinks our incessant focus on racism and name-calling is turning them off. I have mixed feelings about whether simply explaining things to people is sufficient to change voting habits, but I dislike the way Somerby's points are being mischaracterized here. I think his approach is worth a try.
Here's your problem, though.Delete
It his very combox, staring you right in your face, is the actual exchange between Quick and Carson.
You can go ahead and believe those questions were silly and snarky because that's the narrative Bob has been selling for years.
And you can yearn along with Somerby for "clearer explanations of financial policy and issues."
But you got the exchange right in your face. And I don't see how Quick could have asked better questions of a plan Somerby himself deems "crazy."
As for Somerby's "approach", what is it exactly? He constantly urges "liberals" to adhere to some sort of vague rules, then he turns around and writes the vilest insults about people he disagrees with.
Yes, it would be a swell, lovely world if we all follow the "approach" Bob preaches.
But the "approach" he practices? We have far too much of that already, don't we?
"stereotypical undereducated know-nothings (like Honey Boo-Boo's mom or the pawnshop reality stars)"Delete
Yep, more of that famous Somerby "approach."
Well, thanks for the response, but it seems to go beyond that with Bob. He has his own dubious prejudices and is quite willing to go the uncivil road when he's in the mood. He's right, in general of course, it's better to stick to sound arguments and civil discourse even if it doesn't work. Cussing these people out doesn't "work" either. What's tiresome is that he becomes, especially in light of his own playbook, very pious.Delete
I didn't, really, see anyone go back to the dopey or snarky questions Cooper asked the Dem candidates, since they did well, he was given high marks by the TV jaw flappers I saw. But a good political mind can make that stuff work for you, while a hack only complains.
Go easy on Bob: he's an unfortunate product of the Soviet mind hive.Delete
So, can anyone tell me how much Somerby has written about coverage of any of the other Republican Presidential debates.ReplyDelete
Wasn't there some controversy over questions at the first debate? What kind of bias did Bob say that might have looked like?
"musings on the mainstream "press corps" and the american discourse"Delete
Somerby doesn't cover the debates. He covers issues that interest him about the way the media covers politics. You can go back and see what Somerby said around the time of the first debate.
And according to this latest week-long series, it's questionable whether Bob even watched the debate he has written about.Delete
But then again, it is is always nice to learn once again that Bob is excused from knowing a damned thing about what he is writing about.
Well, there's discourse and there's dat course (the actual debate). As a loyal Bobfan member of the Soviet mind hive, I'm here to set you straight: he's only responsible for knowing about the discourse.Delete