Just my two cents on some of the major participants and what it all means for the 2016 election:
Ohio Governor John Kasich:
This guy has got to be Hillary Clinton’s biggest nightmare. Comfortable in his conservative beliefs but tolerant of those who differ; compassionate in his views about helping those in need. Very strong moment for many moderates and independents, I think, when asked about his opposition to same-sex marriage and he said that, hey, he’s an old fashioned guy but how would he respond if one of his kids came out? He’d love them. Good answer!
Unapologetic about increasing Medicare subsidies in Ohio, he sounded a compassionate conservative theme I haven’t heard from a Republican in a long, long time. He also has a smart political team. The timing of his Presidential announcement gave him the precise buzz and bump he needed to get into the big 9 pm debate. One of his major slogans right now to GOP voters is- “No Republican has ever been elected President without winning Ohio. Ever.”
He also fills the “regular guy” role that was supposed to be Scott Walker’s specialty. I honestly think Hillary Clinton beats every single GOP contender on that stage- except John Kasich. The math gets really difficult for Dems without Ohio.
Brilliant move by Kasich to say Trump is touching a nerve with many and not belittling him. Not only does he get Trump’s supporters at a later date but if Kasich gets the nomination, Trump will remember the kindness and maybe doesn’t launch the 3rd party bid.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio:
Pretty solid performance. Really liked his take on the immigration issue when he pointed out the real problem no one talks about- the horrible, inane government bureaucracy that is so inept it turns immigrants who want to be law-abiding into criminals when they give up after waiting for years and years and end up sneaking in. Rubio’s youth and energy could be a real contrast to Hillary the Grandmother. And Dems like to win Florida too, and he wouldn’t be making that an easy task. Not sure he currently has the Presidential demeanor. I see Kasich as a Commander in Chief way before I picture Rubio. But if the country really wants change- he’s an attractive, next generation alternative.
Donald Trump and Roger Ailes:
The Fox News President, I’m guessing, did his best to end Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican nomination and probably succeeded with the first two questions that were asked in the debate. Knowing full well what Trump’s response would be, the first question asked of “all” the candidates was to raise their hand if they would be willing to bolt the GOP and run as a 3rd party candidate. Trump obliged, proving definitively, that he really does not give a rat’s ass what anybody thinks of him. He is not a panderer.
Then Megyn Kelly asked about his insulting tweets about women. Then Chris Wallace asked about his four Casino bankruptcies.
Was he diminished? I think for some Republicans, the ones who care about the party, the luster has come off of the Trump infatuation. But for many conservatives and for politically pissed-off people who don’t particularly care about the Republican party- he maintains and even gains a little.
Unless the post-debate Fox news panel with 21 Fox-selected participants reflects reality. Fourteen of them went into the debate liking Trump only 3 remained loyal by the end of it. They called him mean and selfish and bombastic. And then later, a lot of Fox News analysts also were highly critical of Trump’s performance. This is not subtle. The Trump people are picking up on the conspiracy vibe.
Trump organization Executive VP and special counsel, Michael Cohen tweets the following:
Are we on the verge of a Trump–Ailes war? Because right now, it’s looking like the Donald walked into a gigantic trap.
Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker
He was sharp and well spoken. He’s clearly crammed his little heart out on foreign policy. He’s a guy with a family and a Harley. He does “regular guy” very well. He has certainly been consistently dissed and underestimated and just wipes out his opponents in every election he’s ever been in. He’ll end up being a force to be reckoned with. But I don’t think Kasich plays “regular guy.” He actually is one and is a much more experienced political hand with a superior political operation.
Former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush
Meh. No flubs. Selling himself as the voice of reason. Dealt smartly with Trump and didn’t get into the mud in any way. Stuck to his talking points on his accomplishments as Governor. I don’t feel it for the third Bush.
New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie
He was pretty solid and articulate but kind of transparent in regard to his strategy of goading one of the other candidates into a brawl and so it was Rand Paul he chose to target. I thought Paul held his own in the fiery debate between the two on the issue of national security versus privacy rights. Christie came off tough alright. Unfortunately for him, that mantle’s been taken by Donald Trump. In the battle of the bullies, Christie gets Trumped.
Kentucky Senator, Ron Paul
His brand has been deeply tarnished over the months but I thought he put on a decent debate performance. His libertarian views were pretty clear and consistent and he resisted pandering.
Former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee
What ever happened to the happy warrior who tells jokes and plays bass with rock n’ roll bands? He seems so angry these days. “Get off my lawn” kind of angry. He stayed away from oven analogies- a wise choice. He had a staged joke at the end criticizing a candidate that sounded like it was going to be Trump and it ended up being Hillary. The Fox News hosts thought this was really funny.
Dr. Ben Carson
No surprises. Didn’t get much air time and stood his ground about it. Fairly funny staged joke at the end saying that as a neurosurgeon there are things he’s done no one else on the stage has- like separate Siamese twins and operate on people with a half a brain which he compared to the half-brains in Washington.
Texas Senator, Ted Cruz
Got seriously short-changed on air time and answered every single question precisely as you would expect him to- extreme hard right. It struck me that as the champion college debater he was, Cruz would be killer in a more traditional and structured debate setting. But this was not that. This is the age of Trump and politics as reality television. This is the age of 17 candidates and not enough time for any of them, really.
Former HP CEO, Carly Fiorina
Voted Most Likely to Succeed in Leaving the Kid’s Table and Moving Up to the Adult Table for the next debate. It seems to be very important to the Republican party that there be a woman who criticizes Hillary Clinton non-stop and either the rules will be changed or the good press she got will put her into the top 10, but she WILL be in the next debate with the top folks. She’s also looking very Vice Presidential to me. Kasich-Fiorina.
You got some work ahead of you, Hil.
True, I’m about three days late reacting to the breakthrough development over at Fox News but I thought it best to let it ferment for 72 hours or so. The reaction seems to have taken hold and it’s unanimous. What the hell are they smoking over there and can we get some?
Fox News, having just celebrated its 17th birthday, has decided that it has to modernize its news presentation so in addition to a massive revision to its primetime lineup, it has revealed its Jetsons-like view of the future of journalism.
It involves human units called “information specialists” who toil before enormous 55-inch screens which they can be seen touching and swiping as they appear to scour for news on Twitter. This all happens behind news anchor, Shepard Smith, who speaks to the camera and jauntily meanders to a large panoramic-type screen whose visual contents he can rearrange with yet more swiping. You can see the amazing new interactive-ish, information-like newsroom here.
And now a sampling of reaction to the most embarrassing news use of pseudo-technology since CNN tried holigraphically transporting its reporters to its election news set in 2008.
From The Verge:
Fox News has just unveiled a breathtakingly ridiculous newsroom, complete with novelty-sized Windows-based touchscreens, a Twitter wall, and a wannabe Minority Report-style display, which it hopes will connect it with generations of viewers who use smartphones and apps…
Smith later demonstrates a gigantic 38-foot-long video wall with a device “never been used in broadcast television before.” It’s a remote control that allows Smith to shuffle through an image carousel with no apparent journalistic purpose. “For instance, I can take this lady who’s been evacuating from a hurricane zone and move it over here,” Smith says.
Rather than regular computers sitting atop standard desks you’d find spread across any typical newsroom, Fox News has come roaring into the 21st century by replacing those desks with comically enormous touchscreens; one cartoon-sized touchscreen per person.
From New York magazine:
Fox News Has the Biggest Computers on Cable, for Facts and Stuff
In the future, Shepard Smith will control an army of news bots who work 24 hours a day to prove Obama is a Muslim. The future is now: As the new editor of the breaking-news division, Smith will lord over what he’s referring to as “information specialists” — reporters, maybe, kind of, in Fox News speak — and their comically oversize computing machines called BATs, “big area touchscreens.”
From Death and Taxes:
Fox News debuts its new, tiny journalists
Fox News revealed on Monday their attempt to build the newsroom of the future. This apparently involves implementing giant tablet computers, which make it seem like they physically shrank everyone on their staff.
Why Is the Fox News Room Full of Absurdly Giant iPads?
Over on Fox News’ website, Shepard Smith gives us a tour of the Fox News Deck’s upgraded studio which inexplicably features a team of staffers in the background working at what appear to be gigantic tablets. According to Smith, those are actually “information specialists” frantically pawing away at what Fox calls BATS—or big area touchscreens (most likely Microsoft hardware running Windows 8)—that puts 55-inches of Twitter feeds and other news sources at their fingertips. What?
Ok, so if this is the new Jetson’s version of journalism, I have to say that I prefer the Flintstones version better. A typewriter and some clanking wire machines in the background. A fedora with a piece of paper in the band that says “Press” on it. Edward R. Murrow knows what I’m talking about.
I don’t care who you are or who’s in the White House. It doesn’t matter if they are a Republican or a Democrat. It is inappropriate to interrupt the President of the United States during prepared remarks as Neil Munro did Friday afternoon during Barack Obama’s Rose Garden announcement about a change of enforcement policies for the children of undocumented parents.
This is not about politics, it’s about decorum. The White House Correspondents Association, Bill O’Reilly and two Fox news anchors were among the many who thought the incident out of bounds and over the top.
Munro works for the Daily Caller, a conservative web site run by Tucker Carlson who I used to work with occasionally at CNN years ago, back when he and Bill Press were the “left-right” commentary couple for the cable news network. Tucker says he’s proud of Munro, but I’m not sure for what. I don’t see the big freedom of the press issue that would make Munro some kind of journalism martyr.
Munro claims he didn’t mean to interrupt Obama and that he mistimed his question thinking the President was wrapping up his remarks. Reporters who were there describe Munro’s claim of accidental timing as a large “cow pie.” The entire assembled press corps knew the President was nowhere near finished.
This was the question Munro was trying to ask, according to the official White House transcript. He finally got it all in as the President walked away from reporters following his statement with, ironically, Neil Munro, being the only one who actually got a question answered.
Q What about American workers who are unemployed while you import foreigners?
Now, there are questions and there are questions. It is certainly reasonable to ask how adding 800,000 children of immigrants to the work force might complicate the jobless situation. But then there’s “while you import foreigners.” That reveals ideology and agenda. Mr. Munro did not give the appearance of being much of a reporter in this incident. He may write words that get published on a web site, but on Friday he was a provocateur.
I actually think the President should hold more news conferences and answer more questions. Neil Munro should ask whatever he likes, respecting the long-established protocols of his profession. But besides being rude, he cut in line. Ask your questions at the end just like everybody else. And if the President walks away and it seems he doesn’t answer questions often enough for you- report that.
The question and the opinion it was drenched in was not really a question- it seemed more a debating point. That’s what partisans do, not reporters.
It was 7 am at CNN headquarters in Atlanta the week of July 15th, 1996. The weekly manager’s meeting had suddenly become daily, the gathering time moved up by some three hours. We all sat rather bleary-eyed around the room as, in somewhat of a controlled panic, we discussed the implications of the launch of MSNBC.
Fox News would launch its cable news network two months later and it had already been written about, but no one at CNN thought much of that effort; it was MSNBC everyone was worried about. While we all talked about MSNBC’s graphics and pacing and stylistics, we totally missed the real import of what was about to happen to American media.
As the head of CNN’s Radio division at the time, I was as clueless as everyone else. If I’d had one forward-thinking cell in my brain at the time, I would have foreseen that the secret to cable TV success was to emulate talk radio. Anger attracts listening and, as it turns out, TV talk programs focused on political anger, attract viewers. Plus they’re long shows which means audiences stay glued to their TV’s for extended periods- hence, better ratings.
Which brings us to Keith Olbermann. As it turned out, Fox News was the real competitive giant and it was soon beating CNN handily in the ratings. MSNBC eventually figured out that whole talk-radio thing and embraced itself, as Howard Kurtz puts it, as the “anti-Fox.” Keith Olbermann and angry liberal talk would soon overtake CNN as well and MSNBC had righted its ship and if not beating Fox, had at least become competitive and profitable.
As we fast forward to recent times, it turns out the old talk-radio formula is just possibly beginning to wear thin- on cable, anyway. The case is made here by John Avlon in an interesting piece in the Daily Beast. He makes the case that Keith Olbermann’s ratings, for all the success he helped bring to MSNBC, had been dropping. Avlon points out that Glenn Beck’s ratings are dropping at Fox too. He concludes it may be that the public is finally tiring of anger from both sides of the political spectrum.
Perhaps my own viewing habits have been representative of this trend. I watched all the cable news outlets like a madman in the months leading up to the 2008 Presidential election. By the week after the election, I had grown weary- exhausted, actually. The heated rhetoric just wore me down until I couldn’t take it anymore. Keith’s intensity and anger started grating on my basically moderate views. Sean Hannity had become so predictable.
And CNN seemed, as usual, obsessed with trying to be cool. I was amused when they introduced the super-duper high-tech maps that John King would manipulate with his touch-screen finger exercises. But they lost me when they introduced holographic representations of reporters, seemingly beaming up like Star Trek next to Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room.
To this day, I’ll take a hockey or a baseball game over political talk on cable TV, any time.
And as for Keith, we won’t immediately know the full story about the behind-the-scenes drama as both sides seem to have a contractual agreement to avoid specifics over the next few months. Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz presents a good take on the likely happenings here .
When I was head of news coverage at ABC News Radio, my office contained quite a few files on Keith Olbermann, who had worked for the network under my predecessor. It wouldn’t be prudent to reveal their contents. But I will say this.
The last year of the old Shea stadium, some colleagues and I went to see the Cubs take on the Mets. Our passes allowed on-field access prior to the contest and I was standing near 3rd base when I spotted Keith Olbermann hanging out near the Cubs dugout. He had taken the night off from Countdown to revel in the baseball.
I walked up to him and introduced myself. I told him where I worked and that I had seen some of his files and joked that he was “quite the troublemaker.” He smiled a Cheshire-cat grin and said, “Well, somebody’s got to be.”
Yup. He’s been a handful everywhere he’s worked. But he’s an enormously talented man and I wish him well in his next incarnation. Good night and good luck, Keith.
Wow. I haven’t watched MSNBC or FOX or CNN for awhile and I haven’t really visited the Andrew Sullivan or Real Politics web sites much since the last election so I was stunned to see the swill that passes for political discourse here in the large news void that is July and August.
So conservative activist Andrew Breitbart posts an edited video tape of a black Agriculture department official saying something allegedly racist about a white farmer who then goes on CNN to say that, actually, she saved his farm and she’s really great and then the whole video tape gets released and the same Obama administration that fired her last week now wants to rehire her because it turns out her remarks were taken out of context and meanwhile conservative icon Glen Beck sides with the allegedly reverse-racist USDA official and comes down on the White House for firing her in the first place, while the NAACP, which called for her resignation a few days ago, now also wants her back.
Did you follow that?
And then there’s the Journolist flap in which it appears left-wing journalists using an e-mail listserv conspired to alter news coverage and counter conservative attacks based on race during the Presidential election cycle and some of the reporters involved in the effort get fired and then all the e-mails come out and it turns out most of the journalists on the listserv didn’t even participate in the discussions but independent-thinking blogger Andrew Sullivan joins forces with Sarah Palin to denounce the apparent liberal conspiracy.
Did you get that?
Meantime, everybody’s favorite affable broadcast news Uncle, Bob Schieffer, gets blasted by Fox News’ Megyn Kelly for failing to ask the Attorney General of the United States on CBS’ Face the Nation why the Justice department dropped a case of alleged voter intimidation against the New Black Panthers that was apparently a huge story on Fox and poor Bob Scheiffer goes on CNN to say he would have asked about it except he was on vacation the week before and hadn’t even heard of this latest political brushfire which the Fox News lady says he purposely ignored because either he didn’t think the story was important or Eric Holder demanded he not be asked about it.
Did you follow that?
And a major Tea Party organizer gets disowned by fellow Tea Partiers for blogging an offensive post he claims was just a joke in which he allegedly “satirically” recreated a conversation between a black person and Abraham Lincoln saying they want to be slaves again because they’re not up to being responsible American citizens and all this comes the day after the NAACP criticized racist elements of the Tea Party which the fired USDA lady says is the real reason why they called for her resignation in the first place to sort of even things up and show they’re fair and balanced.
Did you catch all that?
Excuse me, but I’m going back to watching baseball and America’s Funniest Videos because I’m having trouble understanding the nuances of the new American political landscape. I get the distinct sense people are really angry about one thing or another and they’re all giving me a royal headache.