On Wednesday, Americans tuned in for CNBC’s “Your Money, Your Vote” debate on the economy. They were presented with a wild broadcast that fell short behind the serioushype that led up to the debate. The liberal University of Colorado at Boulder, or better known as CU-Boulder, was the backdrop to quite possibly one of the most outrageous nights in the 2016 election thus far.
CNBC marked the debate at 14 million viewers, calling it it’s most watched night in the network’s history. This record is lower than the first two GOP debates, which both averaged over 20 million viewers. The first Democratic debate on CNN also did better at just under 16 million viewers.
However, the ratings aren’t what caused such a big controversy. It was the CNBC moderators that caused outrage for conservatives and liberals alike. Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and John Harwood came out guns blazing, trying to trip up candidates with questions that did not even pertain the topic of the economy.
The most scathing issue is how CNBC did not reel in the moderators. Live broadcasts are supposed to be engaging, especially when it comes to debates. But Wednesday night’s debate was anything but engaging. Adweek reported that viewers lost interest after the first hour of the debate.
Ultimately, the debate was taken off the rails by the moderators themselves. Notably, Harwood had a particular beef with Donald Trump, calling his presidential bid, a, “comic book version of a presidential campaign.” Trump lashed back at Harwood by stating that he didn’t appreciate the tone of the question. “Not a comic book, and it’s not a very nicely asked question they way you say that.”
The Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Preibus, wasn’t too happy either. He went on the record with Fox News Politics saying that he was “extremely disappointed.” He continued, saying that “While I was proud of the candidates and the way they handled tonight’s debate, the performance by the CNBC moderators … did a disservice to their network, our candidates, and voters.”
Aside from the controversial moderators, the candidates managed to have a solid battle of ideas. Marco Rubio, the U.S. Senator from Florida, was hands-down the star. Rubio managed to compose himself and mount a striking blow in response to criticism from opponent Jeb Bush.
The senator also defended himself from a personal attack from moderator Becky Quick. Quick asked Rubio about his financial misgivings and his student debt, and asked how he will he be able to manage the country’s finances if he can’t manage his own.
“I’m not worried about my finances,” he said. “This debate needs to be about the men and women across this country who are struggling on a daily basis to provide for their families a better future that we always said this country is about.”
Christie was also fighter in the ring. The New Jersey governor stood his ground when asked about fantasy football regulations and, indiscriminately, targeted his response to the the shoddy moderators.
“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? How about we get the government to do what we’re supposed to be doing?” Christie stated.
It was a surprise to see the longtime front runners, Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina, appear relatively meek in comparison to the “party establishment” candidates. Trump was alone in stating his border protection plan is the only solid one, just like he did in the first two debates. Dr. Carson remained very reserved, but was not as cunning as other candidates.
Fiorina was the only candidate whose business credentials were brought into question. The CNBC moderators asked her if she can prove herself, especially after being fired as the CEO of tech giant Hewlett Packard (HP). This was quite the low blow, but Fiorina danced around the question with some really cheesy jokes.
To sum it all up, the winners of the night were Marco Rubio and Chris Christie. These two candidates maintained a professionalism that was noteworthy compared to the others. Only Rubio, however, protected his personal affairs in a manner that played well with the crowd. So in my view, Rubio came in First, Christie in Second, and Trump in Third.
An honorable mention goes out to Governor John Kasich of Ohio, who was the only candidate to mention a plan to relieve the student debt crisis. Kasich wants to utilize the idea of public service to pay back debt for students. For that, Kasich comes in at Fourth with Carson at Fifth.
All the other candidates didn’t have the chops to rank this round.
The obvious losers were the CNBC moderators. If they didn’t lose their professional demeanor, then maybe we could have given some sense of credibility or impartiality to the CNBC network.
The next Republican debate will be on the Fox Business Network (FBN). FBN will be partnering with The Wall Street Journal on a debate that will also focus on the economy. The telecast will take place on November 10th at the Milwaukee Theater in Milwaukee, WI.