Opinion

JEFF JACOBY

The biggest loser? The media

It was, hands down, the most arresting moment of the Republican debate in Colorado.

One of the CNBC moderators, Carl Quintanilla, asked Senator Ted Cruz whether his opposition to the just-announced congressional deal raising the federal debt limit demonstrates that he’s “not the kind of problem-solver American voters want.”

Advertisement

Cruz’s response was to turn the tables on the moderators, blasting them for the hostility toward the candidates that oozed from virtually every question they had asked so far.

Then, with devastating accuracy, he recited back the offensive questions:

Get Arguable with Jeff Jacoby in your inbox:
Our conservative columnist offers a weekly take on everything from politics to pet peeves.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

“Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?”

By this point, the audience was going wild with cheers.

But Cruz wasn’t finished. He contrasted the animus of the media panel toward the GOP field with the recent Democratic debate, “where every fawning question was: Which of you is more handsome and wise?” And then he underlined the message: “Nobody watching at home believes that any of the moderators has any intention of voting in a Republican primary.”

Advertisement

It was brutal takedown, and CNBC’s smarmy moderators had it coming. Cruz is far from the first conservative to rail against liberal media bias, but he did it about as effectively as it can be done in 30 seconds. The clip of that moment will go viral. It may or may not give a boost to Cruz’s presidential hopes, but it will certainly reinforce the public’s sense that the mainstream media isn’t trustworthy.

Rubio played the media-bias card, too. When he was asked about a home-state newspaper calling on him to resign from the Senate because of all the votes he has missed while on the campaign trail, he pointed out that he has missed fewer votes than John Kerry and Barack Obama — two former senators who ran for president, and were endorsed by the very same paper.

Bush then made the mistake of trying to pile on: “Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work.” Rubio’s deft response was to note that Bush claims to be modeling his campaign after John McCain’s — “yet I don’t remember you ever complaining about John McCain’s voting record. The only reason why you’re doing it now is because . . . someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.” Ouch.

It was a good night for Cruz and Rubio; a bad night for Bush. But the biggest loser in Boulder wasn’t a candidate: It was the media.

Jeff Jacoby can be reached at jacoby@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeff_jacoby.

Related coverage:

Plenty of sparring in 3d GOP debate

Michael A. Cohen: Stray observations from the debate

Five truths about the GOP field after the CNBC debate

Winners, losers from the GOP debate

Correction: An earlier version of this column misquoted GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com