The Corner

Politics & Policy

Fox News’ Moderators Were Tough. Maybe a Little Too Tough.

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Fox Moderators: Tough… Maybe Too Tough? Too Confrontational?

As noted last night, the video clips played by Fox News were great journalism – they eliminated the instinctive, “Megyn, I never said that,” or “Chris, you’re taking my words out of context” – but they were brutal for the two leading non-Trump candidates, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

This is the second straight debate moderated by Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace that featured tough questions to the candidates, asking them about the weakest and most contradictory spots on their records.

Fox News clearly came into that first debate with a bit of a chip on its collective metaphorical shoulder; the network, or at least those anchors, are tired of people claiming they’re GOP water-carriers. (It is a silly, inaccurate charge.) They came out and demonstrated they’re willing to ask tough questions about policy, consistency, and past statements to all of the candidates.

The problem is that accusations of bias in favor of the GOP bother Fox News in a way that accusations of bias in favor of the Democrats don’t seem to bother other networks. In any of the Democratic debates, did you get the feeling that ABC, CNN, CBS or NBC came out of the gate, eager to demonstrate they can throw tough questions at Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley? (This is a trick question; no one watched any of the Democratic debates because Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC scheduled all of them for the least convenient times.)

Imagine if other networks emulated Fox News’ use of video. Picture them showing Hillary Clinton in March 2015, assuring the public there was no classified information on her server. Then the moderator holds up the letter from the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General, declaring that an intelligence official examined “several dozen e-mails containing classified information determined . . . to be . . . CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, and TOP SECRET/SAP information” residing on Clinton’s server. (SAP is an acronym for ‘special access programs,’ a level of classification above top secret.)

“Secretary Clinton, wasn’t that March statement a lie? In light of the inspector general’s findings, how can you possibly continue to claim you did nothing wrong?”

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