I spent more than twenty years working in "mainstream media" and I know many politicians attack the media rather than answer tough questions. But as a viewer and voter, I feel some of the criticism of the CNBC panel at last night's GOP debate is justified. There were just too many snarky questions. I did not learn anything new about the candidates' positions. And I don't care what their positions are on fantasy football.
There were "gotcha" questions that wasted time and gave the candidates a common enemy: the media. When the most memorable sound bite of the night was Ted Cruz saying, "this is not a cage match," there is something wrong. The debate was entertaining to be sure, but let's hope the next one is more substantive.
Politicians have all been media trained and are so rehearsed that no question should really come as a surprise. But when the stakes are so high, even one misstep can have an impact. Think back to the debate years ago when CNN's Bernie Shaw asked democratic presidential hopeful Michael Dukaks about his position on the death penalty. This was no ordinary question--it was personal, but the candidate gave a rote response and missed a chance to be seen as human. Take a look:
Shaw took some heat for that question, but it was Dukakis who was burned.