Fox Wins, Everyone Else Loses

We're told there were no winners or losers from Thursday's main stage debate.  We're told the Fox talking heads asked the tough questions that need to be asked to vet the candidates.  We're told to ignore what was in front of our eyes: the Fox media elite carrying water for the Republican establishment and their own political predilections.  Fox had their own agenda, and it has nothing to do with Republican voters' concerns or what our candidates have to offer America.

There were winners and losers.  The winner was the media conglomerate that owns Fox News and Megyn Kelly's career.  Fox is taking credit for breaking all records in number of viewers, as if it were Fox's accomplishment.  Nonsense.  Twenty-four million viewers tuned in to hear Trump take on the establishment.

The viewers wanted to hear Trump push for the end to illegal immigration.  American citizens have been clamoring to end illegal immigration for decades.  We have been lied to and ignored by what Ted Cruz dubs the Washington cartel.  Immigration, legal and illegal, is now at a crisis point.  Viewers wanted to see how the other candidates would handle Trump's challenge to the establishment and his brazen personality, and how they would measure up on this issue.

The viewers were cheated.  Fox decided to take down Trump themselves, not willing to trust that role to Republican voters or candidates.  So instead of hearing from Trump, and judging for ourselves, we got to see Megyn Kelly and company try to destroy Trump in the first few minutes by political theatre.  This is not the job of journalists. 

We didn't get to see the other candidates show their mettle by challenging Trump.  Instead, the main challenge to Trump was from Megyn Kelly, on how he insults women.  That loud-mouth Trump calls women (and men, of course) names – how does this rank among the concerns on voter's minds? 

Others viewers, serious conservatives, wanted to learn specifics about the other candidates so we could begin to pick whom to support.  For example, I wanted to hear how Walker would translate his successes in Wisconsin to the federal level.  He has a talking point about sending education, infrastructure, Medicaid, and other social services back to the states.  What does this mean?  Is he talking about shutting down entire departments?  If not, how exactly does he plan on shrinking the size, cost, and overreach of the federal bureaucracy?

What do the other candidates have to offer in restoring constitutional limits to Big Government?  This wasn't a gotcha question, so it wasn't asked.

I wanted to hear the candidates, including Trump, on how we are going to face the greatest national security threat since the fall of Hitler – a nuclear, unfettered Iran.  If the Democrats in Congress kowtow to the Obama capitulation to Iran, by the next election, our new president might very well be faced with a nuclear Iran, with ICBM missiles and 120 billion dollars to finance terrorism and reach America.  Which of them is up to this challenge? 

Iran wasn't a gotcha question, so the Fox hosts virtually ignored it.  Iran wasn't even brought up until near the end of the debate.  That in itself was a political message in line with the Democrat agenda, downplaying the threat of Iran and ISIS, and treating it as business as usual. 

Scott Walker was next in line to be destroyed.  Walker is one of the top contenders for the nomination based on his outstanding achievements in Wisconsin in taking on the all-powerful teacher union and Democrat national machine.  Did we get a single question on the problem of government unions, the size of bureaucracy, school choice, fiscal responsibility, tax relief – the arenas of Walker's victories and why he has earned so much respect?  These are issues Republicans are passionately concerned about, on which we want to compare the nominees.

No, not a single question.  Instead, Kelly tarred and feathered Walker with the accusation he is such a pro-life fanatic he makes no exception even for the life of the mother.  Talk about blood – this was Kelly going after him with a hatchet, trying to sacrifice Walker on the altar of unlimited abortion rights, where so many Republican candidates expire. 

Walker entered the debate stage as the centrist candidate that the GOP establishment and the Tea Party wing could both feel good about.  He let Kelly redefine him as an anti-abortion nutjob.  Walker thinks he is still standing, but I wonder if he is the walking dead.  People won't remember his answer (which was weak).  All they will remember is the accusation.

Ted Cruz is harder to take out, as he is fast on his feet, smarter and more articulate by far than any of the newscasters.  So Fox came up with another strategy: freeze him out.  They simply didn't ask him questions. 

As with Iran, time translates into importance.  Fox's message was that Cruz is a second-tier candidate who doesn't need to be listened to.  Cruz has lower poll figures because the conservative voters are badly split.  Yet he is the primary voice for constitutional conservatives who also understand the jihadi threat, which is a huge percentage of the Republican base.  People wanted to hear his ideas Thursday.  According to the Washington Post, the most Googled candidate at any point in the debate was Ted Cruz.  This is proof that many of those 24 million viewers wanted to hear more from him.  They were cheated.

The debate was a hodgepodge of disjointed gotcha questions tailored to each candidate.  This gave the newscasters total control in shaping the debate, and viewers less useful information.  Those who came off best were the second-tier establishment figures, Rubio and Kasich, who were spared tough gotchas and were not challenged on their questionable claims to be trustworthy conservatives. 

Most topics of primary concern to Republicans were given short shrift, with no opportunity to compare the candidates.  Case in point: reforming taxes and shutting down the IRS.  I would have liked all the candidates to explain their plans to us in an orderly way, and actually debate one another on why their respective approaches are best.  But that would have given power and attention to the candidates and the issues, not the Fox news cast, so no such luck. 

Much praise has been given to Fox for asking "tough" questions and preparing the nominees for prime time grilling by liberal newscasters.  I could not care less about the questions liberals ask.  Megyn Kelly and company are not debate coaches.  The culture war questions will come soon enough from the liberal media.  As a conservative and Republican voter, I want questions relevant to my concerns. 

There is a real debate in the Republican Party between big-government traditionalists like Bush and Kasich and true small-government conservatives.  There is a real debate between pro-immigrant candidates like Bush and Rubio and those who are serious about protecting American jobs and cultural integrity and our two-party system.  Fox had no interest in these very real, burning Republican debates.  None.

Compare what Carly Fiorina was able to accomplish in the non-prime-time debate, where she was given the opportunity to present herself and her agenda to voters.  She was able to emerge as a star.

Fox's prime-time debate questions were designed to promote one star: Megyn Kelly. 

This is our self-serving media at work.  It is our power elite at its worst, leading us poor, stupid voters to the conclusions they, the wise ones, know we should have.  We are even too benighted to know the issues we should care about or the candidates we are allowed to rally behind. 

The Fox debate failed me.