Fox News has gotten a lot of praise for the moderators of the debate last night, particularly Megyn Kelly. And overall, it was better then some of the obsessive bullshit asked about by other networks in prior debates, especially CNN. Some legitimately tough questions were asked, such as those put to Donald Trump and Scott Walkwer. But some questions were clearly nicer than others. Talking Points Memo catalogued some of the questions put to Marco Rubio.
WALLACE: All right, well, Senator Rubio, let me see if I can do better with you. Is it as simple as our leaders are stupid, their leaders are smart, and all of these illegals coming over are criminals?
WALLACE: Senator Rubio, when Jeb Bush announced his candidacy for presidency, he said this: “There’s no passing off responsibility when you’re a governor, no blending into the legislative crowd.”
Could you please address Governor Bush across the stage here, and explain to him why you, someone who has never held executive office, are better prepared to be president than he is, a man who you say did a great job running your state of Florida for eight years.
BAIER: Senator Rubio, why is Governor Bush wrong on Common Core?
WALLACE: Senator Rubio, more than 3,000 people sent us questions about the economy and jobs on Facebook. And here is a video question from Tania Cioloko from Philadelphia. Here she is. (begins video clip) “Please describe one action you would do to make the economic environment more favorable for small businesses and entrepreneurs and anyone dreaming of opening their own business.”
KELLY: Senator Rubio, I want to ask you the same question. But I do want to mention, a woman just came here to the stage and asked, what about the veterans? I want to hear more about what these candidates are going to do for our nation’s veterans. So I put the question to you about God and the veterans, which you may find to be related.
TPM assesses the quality of the Rubio questions:
Rubio wasn’t so much thrown softballs as he was given softballs set up on a tee with 10 strikes and the defensive team told to leave the field. (When Kelly asked the last question, I expected her to ask Rubio his position on motherhood and apple pie too.)
The questioning, in other words, was much less fair than it might have seemed on the surface. Donald Trump, who isn’t going to win the nomination but has a toxic effect on the party as long as he’s in the race, was treated to a brutal inquisition. Rubio, who is arguably the most appealing general election candidate in the field but whose campaign is floundering, was thrown one life preserver after another. John Kasich and Jeb Bush were also treated more gently than the other candidates.
In other words, as Ed Kilgore noticed last night, the candidates who Republican elites would most like to see get traction were given much easier questions than the candidates Republican elites would prefer pack up and go away. Ultimately, Fox News gotta Fox News.