Last night CNN held its latest GOP primary debate in the land of faux pyramids, Eiffel Towers and skylines: Las Vegas, Nevada.
The reactions from the contentious debate have been streaming in, not only from the candidates, but from the media analysts. Some of their responses to moderator Anderson Cooper, the pre and post-debate panels and more are below.
There have been eight debates. There will be 12 more. To invest each one with drama, the networks hosting them have to boast about how grave the stakes are. The hyperbole escalates to the point where it seems like the candidates might take a swing at each other. At points during Tuesday’s debate, for the first time this year, the pre-debate hyperbole actually seemed plausible.
There are plenty of fact-checkers around, and I don’t really consider it part of my job here to think about where candidates messed up, especially since a lot of their factually incorrect statements are just playing to their audience, and you sort of have to expect a lot of that. But Anderson Cooper, the CNN moderator, has no excuse: his claim that 47% of American pay no taxes was inexcusable. Just terrible. The correct stat is that 47% of US households don’t pay federal income taxes, which is very different. It’s bad when politicians get basic factual stuff wrong; it’s terrible when CNN does. To me at least, the debate had a clear loser, and it was Anderson Cooper and CNN for that question.
Despite Newton, Burnett and a format that definitely did encourage conflict, I think CNN still gets a passing grade in one respect. I now know more about the frontrunners (Romney, Perry and Herman Cain) than I did when I tuned in for an evening of debate watching — only to see King trying to act like Wayne Newton had something worthwhile to say about presidential politics.
The problem isn’t that CNN doesn’t have talent. The issue is the network exhibits no ability to differentiate who should be showcased in such situations and who belongs on the sidelines.
The post-debate set was a classic example of this: A half-dozen analysts and anchors sitting in chairs next to Anderson Cooper, and a few more via satellite. All told, it looked like the worst episode of “The Dating Game” ever.
When Romney tried to explain, Perry kept interrupting him. Romney was too civilized to do what he wanted to do – - slap Perry across both cheeks with his glove – - so Romney appealed for an intervention from the ref, CNN moderator Anderson Cooper.
“Anderson!” Romney pleaded. But Cooper is no fool. He knows good TV when he sees it. So he kept silent.