The fight Priebus should have chosen: the debates themselves

posted at 12:01 pm on August 6, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Reince Priebus issued ultimatums to CNN and NBC to withdraw programs focusing on the political life of Hillary Clinton they plan to air, arguing that the move demonstrates bias toward the presumed Democratic frontrunner.  Both broadcasters rejected the demand, and the RNC chair will presumably push for a binding resolution from the GOP to refuse to sanction any debates in the 2016 presidential primary cycle on those channels.  We’ll see if the RNC plays along for now, but National Journal’s Brian Resnick wonders whether Preibus’ assumption that the movies will hurt Republicans is all that solid.  In fact, he picks up on Allahpundit’s suggestion that the movies give Priebus a free pass to keep state parties from acting independently to add debates to the schedule:

In the 2012 election cycle, there were 20 GOP primary debates, and many—including the RNC—thought thatwas a bit of overkill. According to a GOP post-mortem, the number of debates should be reduced “to a still robust number of approximately 10 to 12, with the first occurring no earlier than September 1, 2015, and the last ending just after the first several primaries.”

But doing so is kind of tricky, since many of the local arms of the Republican parties gain money from the debates, explains Zeke Miller at Time:

But the effort to cut back on the number of debates has run into headwinds from Republican state parties in early states, who in many instances see revenue from co-hosting the debates and associated events. The autopsy recommends changing the RNC rules to include penalties for Republican state parties or candidates if they participate in debates unsanctioned by the RNC.

To date that provision has not caught on.

It’s just a theory, of course, but maybe one way to reduce the number of debates without ruffling any Republican feathers is to blame it on the Clinton miniseries. An anonymous RNC insider relays to Miller that the letter is designed to make limiting the number of debates a bit easier.

I’d say it also helps in shaping a particular battleground in advance of the next cycle — the media battleground.  With conservative activists irate at the lack of pushback against the broadcasters in the debates who manipulated agendas and engaged in debating themselves, Priebus’ offensive against CNN and NBC will score political points and help bring Tea Party supporters closer to the GOP.  Airing hagiographies of Clinton — if they are indeed such, which is unknown at the moment — makes that an even easier case to make.  Think of it as drawing a line in the sand early, and putting broadcasters on notice that the RNC will get a lot more aggressive about defending it this time around.  That kind of effort is an easy sell to the base, and indeed what it has long demanded of the Republican Party leadership.

Still, this is an opportunity missed to fix what’s truly broken about the primaries, which is the format itself.  In my column today for The Week, I outline the real problems with the traditional zinger-producing format, and wonder why the revolution in broadband technology hasn’t inspired either or both parties to take the entire effort in-house:

But let’s focus on the real problem in all of these cases: The format of the primary debates. Voters need to know how candidates think on complicated issues and policies. Instead of giving them time to flesh out answers and discuss any nuances of approach, the format locks candidates into absurdly short responses and rebuttals. Too often, the result is a rushed recitation of campaign talking points, with little or no original thought.

Worse yet, the media coverage of these debates end up focusing less on the substance of the answers than the rehearsed one-liners candidates use to needle each other. Analysts have little to judge from these debates other than superficialities such as posture, facial expressions, and the relative skill of the candidates’ tailors, which is why they latch onto the zingers as if the entire process is designed to produce the best master of ceremonies for the White House Correspondents Dinner. Parties with open primaries end up with a stage full of damaged candidates before the first ballots in primaries and caucuses get cast.

Furthermore, it’s not just Priebus who should be concerned about the ridiculous spectacle of these debates. The potential risk in the 2016 cycle extends to both parties, unlike 2012 when Democrats had an unchallenged incumbent. Hillary Clinton blew her cool in a December 2007 primary debate when challenged on states’ issuance of drivers licenses to illegal immigrants, changing her position in the course of her answer, on a subject that had little relation to the presidency. While the Republican primary will be up for grabs, Clinton starts off as the presumed frontrunner in the 2016 cycle, just as she did in 2008, which makes her the big target for everyone else. Clinton could end up as damaged as Mitt Romney after the 2012 primary debates.

If Priebus wants to take serious steps toward reform, he should rethink the entire debate structure. Instead of beat-the-buzzer formats with as many as a dozen candidates on stage at once, the RNC chair should look into formats that have only two or three candidates discussing issues at a time, with a moderator chosen for either neutrality or statesmanship within the party rather than to promote a media outlet’s own reporters. The candidates could rotate through the discussions over a series of events, and the RNC could invite broadcasters to air the debates themselves or have reporters attend them. Given the reach of broadband access, the RNC could live-stream those debates themselves and bypass media outlets altogether. That would put candidates in the best possible position to connect with voters and challenge each other on substance based on their own agendas rather than those of the media outlets.

Mediator bias is a real problem, but it’s the reliance on media outlets for broadcasting the debates that introduces the opportunity for bias in the first place.  (If that’s the problem that Priebus wants to correct, read the column to see why I think a bigger issue is ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.)  The conventional wisdom is that debates need the broadcasters to reach viewers and the trade-off is the imposition of political reporters as moderators, but I’d challenge that assumption.  Even airing on broadcast networks, primary debates aren’t going to pull in casual viewers, and motivated viewers would have little trouble finding the debates on a GOP internet channel instead.  The political media will still report on the debates, but they would no longer dictate the agendas and the questions — a role which really belongs to press conferences and interviews anyway.  And candidates are hardly likely to stop doing either, especially those in need of bigger media exposure to challenge front-runners.

That’s the direction of real reform, which would actually improve the standing of the party’s candidates rather than turn them into Match Game panelists.  It’s at least worth trying — if for no other reason than to send a stronger message to broadcasters that they are not indispensable to this process, and to state parties that the RNC will remain in control of debates.


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What do we even need a moderator for?

Tired of scripts. Let the candidates discuss the issues amongst themselves. If milquetoast candidates get elbowed out, too bad.

We need to find that out now instead of later. No more refs propping up crappy candidates. Let them fall on a TKO.

NoDonkey on August 6, 2013 at 12:05 PM

RNC will remain in control of debates.

Yes. Please. They were fools to allow Stephanopagus in the same room during the dabates. Should have b*tch slapped the little demoncrat hack and watched him run off crying for his puffdaddy Clinton.

onomo on August 6, 2013 at 12:07 PM

From the headlines thread

Why don’t they pick GOP pundits to moderate, and let all networks in.

Debate 1- AllahPundit/Erika

Debate 2 – Palin/Coulter

Debate 3 – Rush/Levin

These debates would have millions of viewers

faraway on August 6, 2013 at 9:22 AM

Schadenfreude on August 6, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Lincoln-Douglas. Period.

Schadenfreude on August 6, 2013 at 12:08 PM

It’s a good idea to let the Republicans control the moderators and outlets for their primaries, and to blazes with the rest of the media. There are surely plenty on the right who would be glad to moderate; Conservatives and Republicans don’t need the likes of Candy Crowley in the business of Conservatives.

Liam on August 6, 2013 at 12:09 PM

How to win a rigged game? Don’t play.

Put all the debates on the Internet. People who care will watch. People who don’t, the Low IQ Voters, will wait for the media to do what they do anyway, lie to them.

It’s easy. (And cutting the money out of the media will send a much better message.)

CrazyGene on August 6, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Neutral robot moderators are the obvious solution. The strong silent type… maybe like Gort.

SickofLibs on August 6, 2013 at 12:09 PM

This was a dumb fight to pick. Unless he’s truly willing to pull that trigger, he should not have “taken the hostage”. Priebus will get rebuffed at the GOP Meeting in August and then he’ll have to walk this back….stooooopid fight to pick. Makes him look more partisan.

powerpickle on August 6, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Debate 1 moderators – AllahPundit/Erika

Debate 2 – Palin/Coulter

Pay per view

faraway on August 6, 2013 at 12:11 PM

We’re in the first inning of this saga, Preibus was right to fire the first shot.

Tater Salad on August 6, 2013 at 12:13 PM

The push-back from the GOP to having live-streamed debates was mentioned in Ed’s first quotation: state parties can fund-raise off a physical presence debate, selling tickets and promising backstage time with candidates. State parties wont want to give that up, and state parties hold a lot of sway at the RNC.

thuljunior on August 6, 2013 at 12:13 PM

This was a dumb fight to pick. Unless he’s truly willing to pull that trigger, he should not have “taken the hostage”. Priebus will get rebuffed at the GOP Meeting in August and then he’ll have to walk this back….stooooopid fight to pick. Makes him look more partisan.

powerpickle on August 6, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Not so fast, even if there is some walk back, he’ll get something on the order of the moderators he would prefer over what the liberal networks prefer.

Tater Salad on August 6, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Makes him look more partisan.

powerpickle on August 6, 2013 at 12:11 PM

I see nothing wrong with being partisan against liberals. I, for one, will never again believe in trying to find a ‘common ground’ with them. The only way to win the war of ideas is to clearly be delineated from the opposition.

Liam on August 6, 2013 at 12:15 PM

one way to reduce the number of debates without ruffling any Republican feathers is to blame it on the Clinton miniseries. An anonymous RNC insider relays to Miller that the letter is designed to make limiting the number of debates a bit easier.

This makes the most sense to me.

I knew the GOP corpse was dead. These are just postmortem flinches.

faraway on August 6, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Ronald Reagan showed how to handle media bias.
The problem is that you have to understand two things before you can do as he did;
1) you have to believe conservatism before you open you mouth
2) you have to understand that the MSM is not and never will be your friend.
.
I can easily see Ronald Reagan in the debate when the so called moderator Candy Crowly supported Obama, instead of looking like a deer in the headlights because he was saying what was written for him but had no belief backing it up, saying to Candy…

“Candy, I’m glad you took the time to coordinate with my opponent and bring along the documentation of his speeches. I would greatly appreciate if you would cite for us the point in that speech where my worthy opponent actually cited the incident in question to be specifically a terrorist attack, and not just some point where he mentions terrorism in general in the speech.”

That would accomplish two things at the same time, he’d have put the moderator in her place and put Obama on the spot to show he was telling the truth.

But, you have to believe first in order to make answers like that.

jaydee_007 on August 6, 2013 at 12:16 PM

If Priebus wants to take serious steps toward reform, he should rethink the entire debate structure. Instead of beat-the-buzzer formats with as many as a dozen candidates on stage at once, the RNC chair should look into formats that have only two or three candidates discussing issues at a time, with a moderator chosen for either neutrality or statesmanship within the party rather than to promote a media outlet’s own reporters.

The problem with this approach is that you get the enemy and the MSM (but I repeat myself) claiming that you are stonewalling if you don’t go along with the “traditional” debate format complete with hacks like Candy Crowley and George Stephanopoulus conspiring to introduce specific themes to the campaign or, in the case of Crowley to outright lie in support of a political candidate.

Nevertheless, in the primaries at least, I say tell all the MSM types to jump in a lake and have a different type of debate. Maybe something akin to The View with the hopefuls sitting around on couches chatting.

Happy Nomad on August 6, 2013 at 12:16 PM

How to win a rigged game? Don’t play.

Absolutely right!

Put all the debates on the Internet. People who care will watch.

Better than left leaning networks

People who don’t, the Low IQ Voters, will wait for the media to do what they do anyway, lie to them.

For them, and those with ADD, try a Twitter debate. Responses with one sentence of short word easy to understand words.

It’s easy. (And cutting the money out of the media will send a much better message.)

Not only easy, but getting on board with modern communications.

The LSM way is so 20th Century.

hawkeye54 on August 6, 2013 at 12:17 PM

I think the conservative/libertarian moderators would be terrific! However, not one Democrat would have the guts to stand up to those questions, not one.

These movies could hurt Clinton. Any falsehoods or gentle treatments could easily be used as fodder for anti-Clinton commercials. And you know they will put lots of vaseline on the truth lens through which these will be made!

allstonian on August 6, 2013 at 12:19 PM

The fight Priebus should have chosen: the debates themselves

The debates are not the problem. The GOP leadership is the problem.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on August 6, 2013 at 12:20 PM

The debates are not the problem. The GOP leadership is the problem.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on August 6, 2013 at 12:20 PM

heh, propping up the caskets of long-brain-dead RINOs does not make a good debate.

faraway on August 6, 2013 at 12:23 PM

jaydee_007 on August 6, 2013 at 12:16 PM

The problem is that Candy Crowley should never have been able to put down that bucket of chicken long enough to lie her ass off by waving that transcript she “just happened” to have sitting in front of her.

If we are to have journalists moderating Presidential debates, the RNC needs to demand a higher class of professional than a worthless partisan hack like Crowley. Why hasn’t Brett Baer been given the chance to moderate, for example? I say the RNC needs to play hardball and if it means no debates between the Republican and Democrat candidates- so what? This isn’t 1859 where the Lincoln/Douglas debates were necessary so the voters could see and hear the candidates. As it is, primaries these days are less about engaging an opponent as it is getting sound bites out in the media. You don’t need the traditional debate format for that.

Happy Nomad on August 6, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Great candidates tend to solve many problems in debates and in elections…

d1carter on August 6, 2013 at 12:25 PM

The heck with debates period. Televised depositions with the participants under oath and questioned by lawyers. Megyn Kelly is one obvious choice for moderator. So is Judge Jeanine Pirro.

meci on August 6, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Yeah GOP, let’s die on Hill Hillary Movie – three years out.

The topics you should concern yourself with are IRS, DEA & NSA spying, Benghazi, Fast & Furious, spying on the press, etc.

I wish we had an option to use 30 pt. font.

Akzed on August 6, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Good catch — the spectacle of Stephanopoulos, who made his career working for the Clintons, moderating a presidential debate with Hillary, would be really absurd…

blue13326 on August 6, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Makes him look more partisan.

powerpickle on August 6, 2013 at 12:11 PM

He’s the Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman. Shouldn’t Reince Priebus be MORE partisan?

ChamomileTea on August 6, 2013 at 12:27 PM

If the primary debates are going to be aired at all on TV, they should do it exclusively on FOX, and they’re bad enough.

Going on the lame stream alphabets will kill us again and will guarantee a McCain/Romney-like redux.

Preebus should tell them to go Weiner themselves.

TXUS on August 6, 2013 at 12:30 PM

The debates ARE the problem. They are a 1960s relic. A strong RNC should think outside the box and do away with them entirely. Let’s really make 2016 the first true 21st-century campaign!

Instead of old-style “gotcha” debates controlled by liberal media personalities who ask surprise questions, there should be a series of “issue forums” where the candidates gather and sit in chairs while discussing pre-issued questions on issues of known concern to Republican voters. There is no reason why there cannot be a New Hampshire forum on immigration, a South Carolina forum on job creation and deregulation, an Iowa forum on health care and alternatives to Obamacare, etc. A “moderator” would not be needed for such forums except to keep time. That could be done by the state GOP chair or even a personality like Sarah Palin, whoever is chosen by the state GOP.

These would not only be educational for the primary voters but would be interesting for non-primary voters to watch.

rockmom on August 6, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Reince Priebus is part of the problem. Has always come across as weak and vulnerable.

Let’s put a man in charge, whose name doesn’t sound like a viral infection.

fogw on August 6, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Makes him look more partisan.

powerpickle on August 6, 2013 at 12:11 PM

You say “partisan” like it is a bad thing. The Left has tried to define “Partisan” as bad/Republican/Evil Tea Party.. “Non-Partisan” is good “Progressive/Democrat”.

The League of Women Voters is one of the most partisan organizations existent. But they call themselves “non-partisan” and when you pin them down, they say that it means “not affiliated with any political party. That’s not the definition of “partisan” and a lie anyway. (The last functionary to tell me that went on to say that he was upset by “the Republicans playing dog in the manger”. :-) )

CrazyGene on August 6, 2013 at 12:35 PM

What do we even need a moderator for?

The word “debate” has a meaning. Did you debate at all in school? Did you go to school?

Capitalist Hog on August 6, 2013 at 12:35 PM

How to win a rigged game? Don’t play.

CrazyGene on August 6, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Best advice I’ve seen. They need to adapt, improvise and go AROUND the networks. All they need is a set, some cameras and post production. I would volunteer to work on that project and I bet a lot of others would too.

We do not need the networks.

dogsoldier on August 6, 2013 at 12:38 PM

The word “debate” has a meaning. Did you debate at all in school? Did you go to school?

Capitalist Hog on August 6, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Maybe they didn’t talk about Lincoln in your school. Or is that 5th grade and up?

faraway on August 6, 2013 at 12:39 PM

…it’s Nopenis!

KOOLAID2 on August 6, 2013 at 12:40 PM

OT- Why can’t we just move on to the sentencing phase? Not that there was any doubt about the identity of the shooter.

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — The Army psychiatrist who faces the death penalty for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood has told jurors that “the evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter.”

Happy Nomad on August 6, 2013 at 12:41 PM

4 debates is enough….and maybe a coupla townhall type thingys…

workingclass artist on August 6, 2013 at 12:42 PM

The fight Priebus should have chosen: the debates themselves

…why?…he probably wants Candy the Cow again!

KOOLAID2 on August 6, 2013 at 12:42 PM

The word “debate” has a meaning. Did you debate at all in school? Did you go to school?

Capitalist Hog on August 6, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Why yes, but Candy Crowley wasn’t there to tip the scales.

The word debate has no meaning to the left other than a chance to schmooze with their MSM pals on live TV. They are two-hour long campaign ads for the left, nothing more, nothing less.

fogw on August 6, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Stupid. It makes the RNC look like censors. Just draft a resolution to use C-Span for debates with networks able to plug into their feed. No MSM moderators. Why? I’m glad you asked, Priebus could say. Because of several generations of toxic bias that doesn’t serve the informational needs of the American people. End of story. F*ck you, MSM

rrpjr on August 6, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Good catch — the spectacle of Stephanopoulos, who made his career working for the Clintons, moderating a presidential debate with Hillary, would be really absurd…

blue13326 on August 6, 2013 at 12:27 PM

No more absurd than throwing in a question about abortion for no other reason than to launch the opening salvo in the war on women theme. There is no real distinction between the Demonrats and MSM. Jay Carney worked in the MSM and is married to another MSM hack. George Stephanopolus is a former political advisor turned journalist. David Axlerod is a former journalist turned political advisor. And the list could go on like that for a very long time.

Happy Nomad on August 6, 2013 at 12:49 PM

OT- Why can’t we just move on to the sentencing phase? Not that there was any doubt about the identity of the shooter.

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — The Army psychiatrist who faces the death penalty for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood has told jurors that “the evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter.”

Happy Nomad on August 6, 2013 at 12:41 PM

Why can’t we just move onto the execution phase…

workingclass artist on August 6, 2013 at 12:51 PM

How many times must the GOP candidate be humiliated by left wing moderators before the RNC realizes that the left does not play fair?

pat on August 6, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Well, the debate format, as practiced by the nets, is problematic. And ABC should be repeatedly slut-shamed and otherwise shunned over employing the Democrat operative George Stephanopoulos and pretending he is a journalist and not a political pimp.

But Priebus’ little stunt here is too cute by half. If they had any doubts about the Hillary hagios, Priebus resolved those for them. Of course they won’t bow to his silly demands, and he had to know it, which suggests that his little outburst does indeed have other goals than preventing the valentines from airing. The whole thing is half-baked, juvenile and obviously manipulative. People don’t generally like the idea of threatening folks into silence, and Priebus’ little tantrum will focus attention on them and will likely have the effect of encouraging some to watch who might otherwise have skipped them. Seems a bit counterproductive, no?

Instead, Priebus could have voiced the widespread concerns that these shows will be what everyone expects, tributes intended to glorify Hillary while glossing over her faults and dearth of accomplishments. He could have said that Republicans will wait and see, but if these things are gooey Valentines the obvious bias and partisanship of CNN and NBC will result in them being treated as the Democrat Party organs they will have proven themselves to be. Let the possible response by the RNC hang in the air, to be determined later. The troops will be disgusted if not outraged, and will demand action. Then act, sanction the propaganda outlets, and the RNC will have the full-throated support of people who have the evidence of bias right in from of them, not just the presumption about shows not yet seen.

But I long ago gave up expecting any kind of imagination or sophistication in Republican tactics and strategy.

novaculus on August 6, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Hillary could be a member of this pathetic GOP

deedtrader on August 6, 2013 at 12:53 PM

The Debates’ Book Tour Candidates
The debates encouraged “book tour” candidates. The debates proved lucrative for these candidates but they crowded out more legitimate candidates. Having a book to sell should be considered a conflict of interest.
Putting the debates on early, and making them the front of center of the campaign de-emphasizes a host of other skills that will be critical in the general election, like fundraising, campaign management, and adverting. So… downplay the debates, and exclude the book tour candidates.

anotherJoe on August 6, 2013 at 12:58 PM

This fight, as such, should have been started a long time ago, right after the Candy Crowley fiasco. If I were the Republicans, I would send no representative to CNN to give their point of view. Why bother? I would explain, at a press conference, that we feel that CNN is so biased, they can’t be relied upon to edit anything so, if a representative is to appear it will have to be live, period.

The same goes for NBC, after the editing they did on Zimmerman, does anyone really feel they can be a trusted news source?

So, the question is how can the Republicans decide that airing a movie about Hillary is worse than creative editing or ambushing a presidential candidate? They should have been outraged about the Crowley thing and acted then.

bflat879 on August 6, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Priebus should’ve said they won’t participate in Presidential debates on those channels. CNN and NBC don’t want to give air time to our side anyway, so its win-win for them.

Iblis on August 6, 2013 at 12:59 PM

What do we even need a moderator for?

The word “debate” has a meaning. Did you debate at all in school? Did you go to school?

Low-IQ Bleu State Jerked Porky on August 6, 2013 at 12:35 PM

de·bate
/diˈbāt/

Noun

A formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward.

Verb

Argue about (a subject), esp. in a formal manner.

Don’t see the word “moderator” in there…

de·bate (d-bt)
v. de·bat·ed, de·bat·ing, de·bates

v.intr.

1. To consider something; deliberate.
2. To engage in argument by discussing opposing points.
3. To engage in a formal discussion or argument. See Synonyms at discuss.
4. Obsolete To fight or quarrel.

v.tr.

1. To deliberate on; consider.
2. To dispute or argue about.
3. To discuss or argue (a question, for example) formally.
4. Obsolete To fight or argue for or over.

n.

1. A discussion involving opposing points; an argument.
2. Deliberation; consideration: passed the motion with little debate.
3. A formal contest of argumentation in which two opposing teams defend and attack a given proposition.

No mention of the word “moderator” there, either.

But hey, I’m only a Stupid Birther, so what do I know?

F-

Del Dolemonte on August 6, 2013 at 12:59 PM

The debates are not the problem. The GOP leadership is the problem.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on August 6, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Indeed. Priebus is the same moron who’s “post-mortem” pushed the need to Hispander via amnesty immigration reform.

Bitter Clinger on August 6, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Iblis on August 6, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Seriously, how many people actually watch debates? How many people make up their minds based on the performance of the candidates at these events?

I’d bet that you could do away with debates completely and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference in the outcome. The RNC shouldn’t be afraid of walking away from these events which was perfectly summed up when Candy Crowley moderated while sitting in the President’s lap.

Happy Nomad on August 6, 2013 at 1:03 PM

The number of debates never was a problem. The moderators were. On the one hand the entire process definitely needs reform. On the other hand it sounds like Priebus wants to redesign it, so the RNC and its allies can ramm the next establishment candidate through more easily.

Valkyriepundit on August 6, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Why can’t we just move onto the execution phase…

workingclass artist on August 6, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Beats me. It’s clear he is the shooter. It is clear why he did it. I don’t see why it took four years to get this bastard in front of a court martial. That isn’t fair to the victims.

Happy Nomad on August 6, 2013 at 1:07 PM

hear hear Ed

cmsinaz on August 6, 2013 at 1:08 PM

I think the RNC should hire their own moderators and offer the broadcast to broadcast networks. Why should a group of Candy Crowleys and George Snufflepagusses have a chance to shape the election so blatantly.

Fight the Democrats on every battlefield, not just one or two.

MTF on August 6, 2013 at 1:09 PM

no more moderators; no more questions devised by the liberal media for an RNC debate. quit playing with the liberal media, there are other outlets for broadcasting, the liberal media has rigged the game.

burserker on August 6, 2013 at 1:12 PM

4 debates:

First debate: Townhall/HA hosted, moderated by AP, Erika and John Ransom.

Second debate: Blaze TV hosted, moderated by Beck, Doc Thompson and Jay Severin.

Third debate: Talk radio hosted, moderated by Limbaugh, Levin and Beck.

Fouth (and last) debate: Fox hosted, moderated by O’reilly, John Stossel and Coulter.

nobar on August 6, 2013 at 1:13 PM

The primary debates were not as slanted as the presidential debates were but there is no reason to even have the networks carry the primaries since they are by default democrat water carriers. Priebus is right to make the case for improved accommodations.

DanMan on August 6, 2013 at 1:15 PM

“Paging Chuck Norris“…….”Paging Chuck Norris to the set please.”

FlaMurph on August 6, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Del Dolemonte on August 6, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Lincoln and Douglass are the most famous debating duo of all time and had no moderator. CapHog is an imbecile – you might as well just ignore him.

novaculus on August 6, 2013 at 12:53 PM

I disagree with your assessment. RP knew that networks would deny his request, but now it does 2 things:

1) inform the general public of how ridiculous it is that supposed nonpartisan networks are propping up the presumptive D candidate right before the election (eg, this story was on GMA this morning)

2) might force the networks to make the movies a little less flattering toward Hillary – a net win for GOP.

crrr6 on August 6, 2013 at 1:18 PM

The liberal media have positioned themselves in the minds of people and even Republicans that they are indispensable to anything political, and so must be part of Republican debates. Otherwise, they’ll scream they’re being shut out or stonewalled from the truth. As if liberals do anything honest…

I say to deny them place to participate. They can watch, they can get a feed to air the debates if they want. For a fee, of course.

Liam on August 6, 2013 at 1:18 PM

..on a related matter, I hope you all have received your recent GOP survey, dutifully recorded your opinions thereon, and jammed a couple of centibucks into the envelope before sealing it and returning it to these d*uchebags.

(Yeah, right!)

The War Planner on August 6, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Why are we doing any of the one sided socalled debates? We should not do any unless we have a say in moderators and questioners.
We don’t need slanted questions just equally fair questions dealing with the REAL issues effecting the American TAX payer.
The non taxpayers don’t interest me at all.
No debates period unless the RNC has a say in who is on a panel!
I am speaking of the Presidential Debates and if we have 70 primary candidates, then we should not participate until we have one candidate! Otherwise we are eating ourselfs up.

Delsa on August 6, 2013 at 1:21 PM

If the GOP was smart, they’d bail on the MSM entirely. It’s a monopoly of their political opponents. Who in their right mind would succumb to that? Forget the debates. Just do everything online.

WhatSlushfund on August 6, 2013 at 1:22 PM

crrr6 on August 6, 2013 at 1:18 PM

I think my suggestions would have achieved your #1 at least as well. As for #2, it would be better if CNN and NBC go ahead with obviously biased movies, the more biased the better. Because the more bias they display, the more obvious their bias is, and the stronger the measures taken in response can be.

novaculus on August 6, 2013 at 1:27 PM

What’s a Reince?

Galtian on August 6, 2013 at 1:32 PM

The only reason the nets want to do these debates is because they look at is as a 90 minute window of opportunity to disqualify the republican candidate and their ideology.

If the RNC runs their own debates with proven unbiased moderators, and only offer offer the (cable) networks a feed, somehow they wont be as interested because they won’t be able to shape the debate to humiliate the republican.

When they try to lie to the lo-info’s to what took place at the debate, the RNC will have the unedited version to contradict and b*tch slap the Candy Crowleys of the world.

veni vidi vici on August 6, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Debates are moot. It is the LIVs that are voting these morons into office and their channels are stuck on MTV and Honey-Boo-Boo.

hillsoftx on August 6, 2013 at 1:45 PM

there is one advantage of being the minority party…and a long losing streak. There really is no downside. Time to experiment. Time to make a tactical retreat and get your troops and strategy together.

the debates were a total disaster last time. Week after week of cringe worthy garbage with happy leftists jumping up and down with joy

let’s avoid that this time. If everything is on FNC and cspan, so be it. Don’t let the state parties sell the national brand down the river. The state parties have only their own vested narrow interests.

at any rate, the Rs are near extinction…they’ll have to slowly build from the ground up…sow the seed for 2020 and beyond

r keller on August 6, 2013 at 1:50 PM

The biggest mistake Republicans are making is fixating on Hillary Clinton.

Everyone has forgotten about 2008 and what a sure thing Hillary Clinton was then, too.

Moesart on August 6, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Lincoln-Douglas. Period.

Schadenfreude on August 6, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Burr–Hamilton.

That would be some great TV.

pain train on August 6, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Two easy ways to make the debates better:

1. Each debate *season* should have 5 key issues and the debates need to be devoted exclusively to those issues. In the first 1/3 of the debate, candidates need to present their assessment of the current state of X or Y issue. In the 2nd 1/3 of the debate, candidates should present their plan to resolve that issue with plans for the immediate, middle and long term. Finally, in the 3rd section you open things up to a moderator and encourage the candidates to debate the plans they have presented. This would reward people who can effectively communicate on issues and who have a command of the facts.

2. Stop requiring memorization. There is absolutely no part of the Presidency which requires that a person be able to pull stats and data off the top of their head. Candidates should be allowed to put together a power point presentation with *strict* guidelines around evidence.

These reforms would make the debates less “interesting” and less “infotainment” like. But is the point of a political debate to entertain? Or is it to offer those interested in voting a set of choices. How many more apathetic people might tune into that kind of a debate than those who do now. The problem, of course, is that the people who decide about the debate format are interested in one ting and one thing only, ratings. Because ratings = revenue. With revenue as the ultimate arbiter of what the networks do, we can expect infotainment debates rather than informative ones.

libfreeordie on August 6, 2013 at 2:18 PM

The autopsy recommends changing the RNC rules to include penalties for Republican state parties or candidates if they participate in debates unsanctioned by the RNC.

If they want to do this, what would the penalties be? Both parties have had penalties in the past for jumping the gun on primaries, which was to reduce the number of delegates to the convention, but then at the last minute they give in and let everyone in because they don’t want to alienate anyone.

So what penalties could they come up with that would change behavior, that they’d be willing to enforce, and that wouldn’t alienate people or ultimately hurt the party? I have trouble thinking of any.

prigsbee on August 6, 2013 at 2:59 PM

The affect of this Priebus demand will simply drive viewers to the “Hillary” show. The poor Republicans just shoot them selves in the foot then reload and do it again.

rplat on August 6, 2013 at 2:59 PM

Laura Ingraham was in full cover for the RNC today…..what is she just a shill?

PappyD61 on August 6, 2013 at 3:09 PM

To those here lobbying for Sarah Palin as moderator I say no.

I want to see her there as a debater.

Opinionator on August 6, 2013 at 3:10 PM

If it’s a legitimate news event, the media will cover it.
The moderator(s) should be chosen by a panel comprised of the campaign principals from the several campaigns – not by the media.

Another Drew on August 6, 2013 at 3:23 PM

Ronald Reagan showed how to handle media bias.
The problem is that you have to understand two things before you can do as he did;
.
1) you have to believe conservatism before you open you mouth

2) you have to understand that the MSM is not and never will be your friend.
.
I can easily see Ronald Reagan in the debate when the so called moderator Candy Crowly supported Obama, instead of looking like a deer in the headlights because he was saying what was written for him but had no belief backing it up, saying to Candy…

“Candy, I’m glad you took the time to coordinate with my opponent and bring along the documentation of his speeches. I would greatly appreciate if you would cite for us the point in that speech where my worthy opponent actually cited the incident in question to be specifically a terrorist attack, and not just some point where he mentions terrorism in general in the speech.”

That would accomplish two things at the same time, he’d have put the moderator in her place and put Obama on the spot to show he was telling the truth.

But, you have to believe first in order to make answers like that.

jaydee_007 on August 6, 2013 at 12:16 PM

jaydee_007 on August 6, 2013 at 12:16 PM

.
Y E S ! ! ! . . . . . . There’s no use knowing #2, if you don’t first believe #1.

Which Republican candidates said this during the 2012 campaign?

“Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

Ronald Reagan

Or even the 2008 campaign? … I don’t remember hearing anyone.

listens2glenn on August 6, 2013 at 3:27 PM

The format of a debate is irrelevant to the perceived outcome. Any media coverage of any kind will not turn out well for the Republicans.

Carnac on August 6, 2013 at 4:01 PM

You don’t need a mediator and you don’t need a panel, just a timekeeper to ensure each debater gets equal time in the end. People who think they are qualified to be President should be able to discuss the issues without prompting.

Longer answer segments are definitely needed, but using a time bank can solve that. Suppose there are five candidates and a 90-minute debate. That gives each a total of 18 minutes; let them use their own time as they see fit, perhaps reserving a mandatory minute for closing statement. If Bachmann chooses to use all her time ranting about vaccines, that’s her problem. If Santorum refuses to answer other candidates’ questions, let them point it out. If Rand Paul wants a break to burn a fatty, let him have it. They are adults, they can manage their own time.

Adjoran on August 6, 2013 at 4:37 PM

The other problem is who is allowed to participate. We have too many “candidates” who only run for the publicity, to sell books or perhaps set themselves up for another office or a TV gig. There has to be a way to control that, to restrict the debates to candidates who are serious, potentially viable, and who will support the party nominee if it isn’t them.

Adjoran on August 6, 2013 at 4:39 PM

Maybe they didn’t talk about Lincoln in your school. Or is that 5th grade and up?

faraway on August 6, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Ah another one wants to ride the __________. Coming to your lover’s defense, how noble. Have you ever competed in a formal debated? What was/were the topic(s)?

Debate is structured argument. Save the Newt Gingrich schtick. There is a reason the Lincoln-Douglas episode is an anomaly.

Incidentally, your reply employs a wonderfully lame debate FAIL, red herring.

Capitalist Hog on August 6, 2013 at 5:39 PM

Preibus is a waste of human skin.

Mr. Arrogant on August 6, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Laura Ingraham was in full cover for the RNC today…..what is she just a shill?

C’mon, she fills in For O’Reilly. Sakes.

Mr. Arrogant on August 6, 2013 at 7:38 PM

Burr–Hamilton.

That would be some great TV.

pain train on August 6, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Indeed.

These reforms would make the debates less “interesting” and less “infotainment” like. But is the point of a political debate to entertain? Or is it to offer those interested in voting a set of choices. How many more apathetic people might tune into that kind of a debate than those who do now. The problem, of course, is that the people who decide about the debate format are interested in one ting and one thing only, ratings. Because ratings = revenue. With revenue as the ultimate arbiter of what the networks do, we can expect infotainment debates rather than informative ones.

libfreeordie on August 6, 2013 at 2:18 PM

Interesting ideas, and worth considering.

Now if only the RNC would put HA in charge of organizing the shows …

AesopFan on August 7, 2013 at 12:21 AM

Great call, Ed. This further exposes Michael Medved and his RINO POS sisters in the GOP. The spectacle of Medved calling Priebus’s challenge “stupid” is even more pathetic now.

He is dead to me.

Jaibones on August 7, 2013 at 6:11 PM

NBC will offer to show the Palin movie and Michael Moore’s “documentaries” and humorous segments from Jeneane Garofalo, if they can find any, to add some balance.

virgo on August 9, 2013 at 12:34 AM