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Trump Right on 2-Hour Debate Win on CNBC

Image: Trump Right on 2-Hour Debate Win on CNBC
(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 29 Oct 2015 12:24 PM

Donald Trump called out CNBC for being unfair and wrong during the third Republican presidential debate Wednesday night — and various media reports suggest the billionaire developer is totally right, with even The New York Times, stating, "If there was one clear loser, it was CNBC."

Earlier this month, Trump had squawked about CNBC planning a three-and-a-half hour GOP slugfest in order to load it up with commercials and cash in. And he planned to boycott the debate, as did fellow candidate Ben Carson, unless it was cut to two hours — an issue he raised during the debate.

"These folks, CNBC, they had it down at three, three-and-a-half hours. I just read today in the New York Times, $250,000 for a 30 second ad. I went out and said, it's ridiculous … I could stand up here all night. Nobody wants to watch three-and-a-half, or three hours," Trump said.

"We called Ben, he was with me 100 percent. We called in, we said, that's it. We're not doing it. They lost a lot of money, everybody said it couldn't be done. Everybody said it was going to be three hours, three-and-a-half, including them, and in about two minutes I renegotiated it so we can get the hell out of here. Not bad."

But CNBC moderator John Harwood interjected, "Just for the record, the debate was always going to be two hours."

"That's not right," Trump shot back. "That is absolutely not right. You know that. That is not right."

And Thursday's Washington Post media column by Erik Wemple gives weight to Trump's argument by citing a Sept. 30 press release sent out by CNBC announcing the terms of the debate.

"The money line comes in the middle of the release: 'Those candidates will take the stage at 8PM ET for two hours of debate.' Bold text added for a reason: Cable news press releases are careful with their language," Wemple writes.

"'Two hours of debate' was CNBC's way of saying that the actual debate time — that is, the time that the candidates spent chatting onstage — was to be two hours, meaning that commercial breaks and other nonsense would be in addition to that allotment."

In addition to Trump's insistence that the debate length be cut down, he also insisted on — and got — the network to allow for opening statements from the candidates.

Meanwhile, The New York Times critiqued CNBC's three moderators in an opinion piece headlined: "The Hosts: Stick to Stocks" — a reference to the network's business-news model.

"The main moderators — Becky Quick, Carl Quintanilla and John Harwood … lost control early and never quite regained it. The result: a chaotic hodgepodge, with the moderators talking over not just the candidates but one another," Times writers Matt Flegenheimer and Ashley Parker said.

"CNBC had hosted the memorable 2011 debate in which Rick Perry had his famous 'Oops' moment. This time, the candidates seemed more sure-footed than the moderators, who prematurely cut off several sharp exchanges.

"And the hosts' attempts to fact-check on the fly suggested that they had not quite completed their homework, as when Ms. Quick pressed Donald J. Trump — correctly, it turned out, but hesitantly — about a barb he had flung at Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida involving the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg."

Even, Joe Scarborough of CNBC's sister network MSNBC took offense.

"The first question was just absolutely embarrassing," Scarborough said on his MSNBC show "Morning Joe," as he called out Harwood for asking Trump if his quest for the White House was a "comic book" campaign.

"I'm sure I'll get in trouble for saying this, but John Harwood opening up by making a clown reference to Donald Trump and then saying you have as much chance as flapping your wings and flying away," Scarborough ranted.

"How much longer are we Republicans going to have to listen to debate moderators, whether they're on Fox or on CNBC, which are supposed to be conservative outlets? … It was just a terrible debate, one of the worst."

Meanwhile, media watchdog Mediaite noted how Harwood asked Rubio about "a line of attack that Harwood himself had to correct weeks ago."

"The Tax Foundation, which was alluded to earlier, scored your tax plan and concluded that you give nearly twice as much of a gain in after-tax income to the top 1 percent as to people in the middle of the income scale," Harwood said. "Since you're the champion of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, don't you have that backward?"

"No, you're wrong," Rubio responded. "In fact, the largest after-tax gains is for the people at the lowest end of the tax spectrum."

"The Tax Foundation, just to be clear, they said," Harwood continued.

"No, you wrote a story on it, and you had to go back and correct it," Rubio cut in.

"No, I did not," Harwood laughed.

"No, you did," Rubio insisted.

"Rubio, as it turns out, was correct in saying Harwood wrote a story along the similar lines two weeks earlier," Mediaite said. "Harwood corrected himself then, admitting that under Rubio's tax plan, the bottom 10 percent stood to gain twice as much as the top 1 percent. Mediaite's Alex Griswold wrote.

"But the question Harwood asked was slightly different this time around: he was asking about the fact that richest 1 percent of Americans under Rubio's plan stand to gain more than middle class Americans, not the bottom 10 percent. The Tax Foundation's analysis found that both statements (that Rubio's plan benefits the poorest Americans most, and that the rich stand to gain more than people in the middle of the income scale) were accurate."

In a later update, Mediaite added, "The original story stated that the question Harwood asked during the debates and the talking point he corrected two weeks ago were identical, and straightforwardly claimed Rubio was right as a matter of policy. As Harwood himself points out, that was incorrect, and the story has been corrected to reflect that fact."

Slate.com called CNBC "the Biggest Loser of Its Own Debate."

"The main moderators … appeared to be in a different time zone from Jim Cramer and Rick Santelli, who pitched in with a few questions. Although come to think of it, Quintanilla may have been in a different zone from everyone," Slate's Helaine Olen wrote.

"Were there tough questions? Sure. In fact, there were more than a few … But mostly CNBC's debate was mess — and to regular CNBC viewers, a familiar one. How bad was it? Straight-ahead moderators John Harwood and Becky Quick seemed to be broadcasting from Planet Face the Nation, lobbing serious policy questions. Meanwhile, the more flamboyant Cramer and Santelli practically competed for overacting honors.

"Cramer all but screamed his question about prosecuting GM executives to Chris Christie, maybe to con his audience into thinking he was playing hardball when he was lobbing a softie."

The Weekly Standard was also appalled.

"The CNBC panelists seemed oblivious to how they came across and how eager they appeared to embarrass the candidates, often on trivial matters. Marco Rubio's cashing in a small retirement fund and paying a fine for doing so — that was their idea of an important issue," The Standard said.

"It backfired. Ted Cruz, then Rubio, then Chris Christie rebelled against the line of questioning. Trump said the questions were 'nasty and ridiculous.' Cruz and Rubio noted the Democratic candidates got far more softball questions at their debate."

And Politico summarized its take with the headline: "Moderators lose control at third GOP debate."

"The CNBC-moderated debate became a debate about CNBC, as various candidates and the audience turned the tables on the network's three moderators. The repeated bursts of anger and anarchy were prompted, in part, by questions from the moderators that veered, at times, beyond sharp into contentiousness," Politico observed.

"By the end of the first hour, the audience seemed to be siding with the candidates, booing when CNBC's Carl Quintanilla seemed to play gotcha with Ben Carson about his past work for a questionable company. Taking on the media is a time-honored tradition in Republican debates, from Ronald Reagan in 1980 to Newt Gingrich in 2012. But those were generally individual outbursts.

"On Wednesday night, the tension was palpable throughout the encounter and across the stage, a theme that may have dashed CNBC's plans to use the night to showcase a broad array of its own anchors and introduce itself to millions of new viewers."

The CNBC debate ended up with significantly lower ratings than the two previous GOP debates on Fox and CNN.

CNN reports that preliminary data indicates about 10 percent of homes with TV sets tuned in for Wednesday night, while Fox's debate in August drew about 16 percent and CNN's debate in September drew about 15 percent.

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Donald Trump called out CNBC for being unfair and wrong during the third Republican presidential debate Wednesday night - and various media reports suggest the billionaire developer is totally right, with even The New York Times, stating, "If there was one clear loser, it was CNBC."
cnbc, debate, gop debate, donald trump
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2015-24-29
Thursday, 29 Oct 2015 12:24 PM
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