CNBC struck an unapologetic stance against criticism of the way its three moderators handled Wednesday night’s debate among Republican Presidential candidates, suggesting its journalists simply did their job, asking questions without fear or favor.
“People who want to be President of the United States should be able to answer tough questions,” the network said in a statement.
Candidates including Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Chris Christie pushed back against a trio of CNBC moderators, “Squawk Box” anchor Becky Quick, mid-morning anchor Carl Quintanilla and contributor John Harwood. All tire enjoy reputations as savvy chroniclers of Wall Street and national news, and all three are former staffers of The Wall Street Journal, employed there prior to its being taken over by Rupert Murdoch.
Among the questions that were ridiculed was one asked about regulation of fantasy football. Other queries were derided as personal attacks.
The debate was viewed as a potential showcase for CNBC, which is better known in financial circles than in political ones. The NBCUniversal-owned cable network has seen ratings decline during its core daytime programming, the result of many of its viewers watching programs like “Closing Bell” and “Power Lunch” while out of their homes and in other ways that Nielsen does not always tally. NBCU is moving away from using Nielsen ratings for the network’s daytime fare, though continues to use what has become the industry’s traditional means of measurement for its primetime schedule, which consists of reality shows such as “Jay Leno’s Garage” and repeats of “Shark Tank.”
If CNBC’s pointed queries really struck a nerve, the candidates were not showing it. Governor Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio both appeared on CNBC Thursday morning and Trump did an interview with CNBC’s Joe Kernen last night in which he praised the debate.
In a tweet, Harwood said moderating the debate “enriched my understanding of challenges @SpeakerBoehner has faced and @RepPaulRyan will face.” Quintanilla also put on a smile, using Twitter to poke fun at the proceedings. “I’ll say this much: everyone should moderate a debate, once. It’s like yelling at the TV from home, except they talk back.”
More to come….