The Day After…

CNN’s Brian Stelter writes about CNBC the day after the debate from hell…

There was simultaneous crowing and cringing on Thursday. Employees who spoke on condition of anonymity for this story wished for a “do-over” and pointed fingers of blame for the chaotic production. Some pointed all the way up to CNBC president Mark Hoffman, who was also aboard Wednesday night’s charter.

“Everyone feels pretty embarrassed,” one veteran staffer said.

But some of the same employees also said they were proud that the moderators had pointedly challenged the GOP candidates and potentially changed the course of the presidential race.

They wondered aloud: Will people remember the gripes about Quintanilla, Quick and John Harwood? Will they remember the audience’s boos and the analysts’ comments that CNBC “lost control” of the debate?

They second-guessed the opening question of the debate, when Quintanilla asked each candidate, “What is your biggest weakness and what are you doing to address it?” Did it start the debate off on the wrong track?


As the day went on, there was less and less talk about the debate on CNBC. According to one of the employees, producers were given internal guidance to move on.

At CNBC’s sister news outlets MSNBC and NBC News, producers were advised not to “pile on” the moderator controversy, according to people there.

6 Responses to “The Day After…”

  1. Well duh: Of course you want producers to “move on”. And duh again: of course you want sister outlets not to pile on.

    As always: this is about money making and pretty much nothing else. The, oh we’re shell shocked but look how much money we made was the over riding concern. That applies to every news outlet.

    These debates need to be on C-Span to take the profit motive out of the event. This is the only way, IMO, that you are going to get away from the “it’s going to be a ratings bonanza & therefore a profit bonanza” situation. Citizens deserve better.

  2. From the little I saw of the debate it seems to me there’s plenty of blame to go around for its failure.

    The format didn’t allow for sufficient debate between the parties on the stage.

    The hosts often asked questions that were personal, demeaning and not serious.

    The debaters came in knowing the only way to win was to have a positive viral moment that would get repeated airplay in the post debate analysis. Thus all came in with canned talking points (e.g. the meme about the evil of the MSM) and attacks on other candidates they hoped would provide that moment (e.g. the spat between Bush and Rubio).

    Whether the revolt by the candidates, against the RNC and TV networks, provides a workable solution is debatable but until the field is winnowed down to a reasonable number (4-6) I doubt much will change.

  3. Despite the profit motive of the debates on Fox News and CNN earlier this cycle, I found that there was substance displayed in all of them. I found very little (if any) substance in the CNBC debate. I find that primarily to do with the moderators, who were more interested in self-righteous questions than real answers. Then when the candidates pounced upon it and the crowd ate it up… there was no hope of substance at that point.

  4. Having 10 candidates, I can understand to ask questions that would help those on stage stand out. Yes, the questions were unnecessarily loaded, but instead of using the time to criticize the question – bat the the thing out of the park. Use it as an opportunity to stand out, rather than just lumping yourself in with the other nine as victims.
    Nobody was served well by the debate.

  5. Maddow did a long segment on the upcoming Sunday meeting by Republican candidates. Apparently they hope to take over the debate process from the RNC which would be a revolutionary step by a political party in the US

    I can’t imagine they will be able to come together on either rules, format or moderators so what happens will certainly be interesting.

    My guess is we might see each wing of the party do their own debates. Trump, Carson, Cruz, Fiorina and other Tea Partiers would opt for something like Cruz’s idea of Hannity, Levin and Rush as moderators in one set of debates while Bush, Rubio, Christie, Kasich and the other establishment types would go back to the RNC style debates. I’m not sure where Rand Paul would end up.

    The only thing for sure is the RNC is now in full panic mode.

  6. I heard the best description, on ‘UP’ this morning, of why Jeb Bush, (and his campaign) is in free fall at the moment.

    One of the panelists, quoting an anonymous Republican operative, said ‘Jeb was basically Jim Gilmore with a famous name’. I can’t imagine a better take on the subject.

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