November 1, 2015

The fake outrage over the latest Republican debate at CNBC continues. The whining is deafening. As we already discussed here, RNC Chair Reince Priebus was out there right out of the box when the debate ended, covering his hind side since he was responsible for setting the whole thing up, and crying about how terribly their candidates were supposedly treated by the moderators at the right wing, big business and CEO friendly CNBC.

Priebus was back at it on this Friday's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren on Fox, explaining just what they were going to need to assure that no more of their candidates ever have to endure any pesky questions that are framed in a way that they don't like.

RNC Chair Explains NBC Suspension: 'We Were Betrayed':

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Friday evening explained why he sent a letter to NBC News informing the network that the committee would suspend its partnership with NBC for a debate in February amidst complaints about the CNBC debate.

"We were betrayed, and I think the candidates were betrayed by CNBC," Priebus told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren. "And we need to look out for the candidates in these future debates."

Priebus would not say what specific he assurances he would need from NBC News in order to move forward. But he said he would take suggestions from the Republican presidential candidates to the network.

"I’m not going to allow us to move forward until we communicate with the candidates," he said.

Priebus on Friday afternoon sent a scathing letter to NBC informing the network of the suspension. He railed against the CNBC moderators' performance at the Wednesday debate.

“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. What took place Wednesday night was not an attempt to give the American people a greater understanding of our candidates’ policies and ideas,” he wrote.

Anything to keep the fake outrage machine going. Josh Marshall at TPM wrote a very good op-ed addressing exactly that just prior to Priebus doubling down on his whine-fest.

After discussing just how awful the debate actually was for reasons other than the ones Priebus and the Republicans are complaining about, and the revolt being led by the candidates themselves to take control of the debate format away from Priebus and the RNC, here are his observations about Priebus and the validity of his complaints.

But let's shift back to the essential complaint. Republicans say that the debate was a disaster because the moderators were too hard on the candidates, focused too little on substance and made the debate a showcase of media bias. But let's get real.

The debate was co-hosted by the RNC, literally the Republican Party, and CNBC, which is essentially a niche news network for the investor class. As I noted, I thought John Harwood was the only standout from the moderators. Fair but sharp questions focused on candidate's policy proposals.

The shortcomings of the other moderators were either that they asked excessively Tea Partyish questions or that they let the candidates get off too easy (like with Trump on Zuckerberg.)

The upshot is this. If your own party partners with a right-leaning news network and the debate is still a media bias catastrophe, well, something is seriously wrong. I would suggest that it's a party in an outrage infinite feedback loop which cannot get its footing without finding some outside force which is betraying it or holding it down or otherwise doing it wrong.

But I'll leave that judgment to others. It really is something like electing John Boehner Speaker of the House, an establishment figure but very much a down the line conservative, and deciding he's simply an Obamabot lapdog whose betrayals must end.

The debate wasn't great. But in terms of unfairness to the candidates or media bias, the complaints about it are simply laughable.

That won't stop the likes of Priebus and his fellow Republicans from crying on Faux "news" about how terribly they were all treated and doing their best to keep the rubes who might vote for them worked into a frenzy.

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