After repeated gaffes and mishaps by GOP candidates in 2012, The republicans sought a way to “rid” themselves of that nasty “liberal media” that was foiling their plans – allegedly. The GOP did a collective victory dance after RNC chairman Reince Priebus declared MSNBC off the GOP primary debate schedule- a schedule that would be dominated by Fox News and conservative media this time around.
The move was an interesting one considering where many of the big GOP slip-ups occurred. Last primary season, in 2012, Newt Gingrich was forced off his game (and into a generic “liberal media” diatribe) when CNN’s John King asked him a question about the ex wife that he de facto abandoned in favor of a newer model. It was on ABC where George Stephanopoulos pinned Mitt Romney with a simple question about states rights and contraception laws. Romney, like Newt, was forced into a ramble about the evil liberal media.
The most famous screw up of the season belonged to Texas Governor, Rick Perry. He declared he would shut down three government agencies as president, then failed to be able to actually name the three, even with an assist from Ron Paul at the next podium. That mess happened on CNBC, and was entirely self inflicted.
So, naturally, the GOP bans MSNBC from the debates. This is the kind of strategy that would be carried out by people who would attack Iraq after a terror attack by 15 Saudis working out of Afghanistan.
This time around, the GOP will not have a liberal media to blame. This year’s schedule for GOP primary debates will be dominated by Fox News and Fox Business with the last debate being conducted by another “conservative media group.” While MSNBC will be relegated to the bench for the primary debates, the GOP welcomes back ABC, CNBC, and of course CNN, to round out the schedule. There will be one more debate done by CBS as well.
Yes, one more time – you did read that correctly. The party that blamed the liberal media and specifically MSNBC invited back the actual networks where their screw ups occurred while demonizing MSNBC.
The biggest factor here though, one that Priebus and his strategy team apparently missed, is that their candidates aren’t exactly fast on their feet with Fox softballs either. Just look at how they have done so far this year in fielding what should have been easy lay ups. Incidentally, the first Republican presidential debate will air on Fox News and will be moderated by Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace— the same three anchors who were the interviewers when three Republican candidates gave embarrassing answers to questions this month.
The most famous of these was Kelly’s interview of Jeb Bush where he royally dropped the ball on the “would you invade Iraq” question. Bush was so interested in coddling his brother that he ended up making a fool of himself with his answer. Such a fool that conservative stalwart Laura Ingraham led a conservative lambasting of the former Florida chief executive. A few days later, always friendly Sean Hannity tried to help Jeb mop up the mess only to make it even muddier and messier.
It was on Fox News Sunday that Chris Wallace pressed Marco Rubio over his abandonment of his own immigration bill.
Politico.com recalls the debacle:
‘You bailed on comprehensive immigration reform. … Aren’t leaders supposed to shape public opinion rather than just follow it? … Shouldn’t you have campaigned for this?’ He also busted Rubio for a dramatic shift’ in his foreign policy rhetoric, backing off his 2012 support for Iran negotiations and forgoing earlier assurances he was ‘not a saber-rattling person.’
And those barbs were just the warm-up for the three-minute raking over Iraq. As Wallace bore into Rubio’s varying responses, the unprepared Senate freshman dug himself into a hole by pleading semantic differences regarding questions about whether Iraq was a mistake and whether he’d have invaded knowing what we know now. Relentless, Wallace asked Rubio about seven times, ‘Was it a mistake?’ And he refused to let Rubio answer it with caveats, cutting him off with, ‘I’m not asking you that.’
If Wallace were not working for Rupert Murdoch, the loaded questions, opinionated assertions and repeated interruptions would earn Wallace a lifetime membership in the Liberal Media Elite Club.
The GOP candidates and potential candidates this spring have managed to turn “warm hug” interviews into creepy gropes.
This time, however, the GOP candidates will be on their own without the scapegoat of the “liberal media” to blame after they get caught with their hands (and mouths) where they shouldn’t be. The first debate will also probably be a game shaping event and one that is more important than first debates usually are. Because of the crowded field, it is expected that only “qualifying” candidates will make the cut and earn a podium spot. How that will be determined is still unknown though some have suggested it could be based on anything from a composite of poll numbers to just whomever Fox feels like putting on the stage.
Whoever makes the cut, being in front of Team Fox might not be the paradise Priebus originally envisioned. Who will the GOP blame then?
I expect they will place the blame squarely where it lies, with MSNBC naturally. <double facepalm>
For a preview, check out Wallace grilling Rubio HERE:
And get in the way back machine and laugh along with the audience as Rick Perry commits his “unforced error” back in 2011 HERE:
Featured image via screen capture via izquotes.com