If Steve M., who writes about the Republican National Committee's decision to permit no debate hosted by any NBC-related network, doesn't play the stock market, he's making an awfully big mistake.
On Sunday morning, he quoted Ted Cruz, who wants debate moderators to have voted sometime in a Republican primary and maintained "What you wouldn’t have is a bunch of left-wing operatives whose object is that whoever the Republican nominee is, they want him as battered and bruised as possible so the Democrat wins in November.” Donald Trump, he observes, said of CNBC debate moderator John Harwood "What a dope. What a fool. And look what it cost NBC. It hurt their reputation. It’s a shame, actually. But he was really a jerk.”
And Ben Carson's campaign manager has said his candidate would, as The Wall Street Journal reports and SM notes, "like to strip the cable and broadcast television networks of the rights to carry the debates and instead air them over the Internet, perhaps via Facebook or YouTube."
So Steve M. concludes that these guys, and the candidates who were to meet later yesterday to decide what they could do to avoid any real questions, are
implying that they've got the necessary toughness to be president -- to take on ISIS and Al Qaeda and Putin and Kim Jong-un -- because they won't take any guff from CNBC. That's their message to voters right now. They know who the real enemy is, and it's little-watched cable news channels. They're not afraid of little-watched cable news channels! They've got the guts to face them down!
Thirty-three hours later, Dave Weigel and Robert Costa would explain
GOP campaign operatives began arriving at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town at around 5:30 p.m. Sunday and headed upstairs to what had been code-named “family dinner.”
As the meeting got underway, senior strategists from several presidential campaigns revealed in e-mails and text messages that Priebus’s staff shake-up was not enough. One campaign manager, speaking about the private meeting on the condition of anonymity, wrote: “Major question is if the RNC should be involved at all.”
The campaigns reached an early consensus on one issue, according to several operatives in the room: the secure standing of Fox News Channel. Any changes would be applied to debates after next week’s Fox Business Network debate. Among the reasons, according to one operative in the room, was that “people are afraid to make Roger [Ailes] mad,” a reference to the network’s chief.
It's one thing to be intimidated by mainstream media (hint of what was to come, video below). But now we have confirmation that the GOP candidates are intimidated by one of their own. They could be consistent and follow the advice of Mike Huckabee's campaign manager (his daughter) that "organization heads or non-journalists as moderators to have a debate that is focused on the issues that matter to Republicans." Or they could follow Ted Cruz's (self-serving) suggestion that the likes of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Levin host a debate, which presumably would be focused on those issues which the candidates believe matter to Republicans.
But they won't, will they? That approach carries with it its own perils, such as exposing establishment candidates like John Ellis Bush or the newest "it" candidate, Marco Rubio, as less fiercely partisan than Ted Cruz or less devoted to extremism than Huckabee. Instead, they make sure Roger Ailes knows they still like him because if Fox News wavers (fat chance of that), they are nowhere. The GOP already has lost America's new demographic, Asians and Hispanics. The Party can't afford to lose its communications arm lest it demonstrate some consistency, courage, or integrity.