Ben Shapiro / November 4, 2015

Republicans vs. The Media

For years, I have been begging Republicans to stand up to the mainstream media. The left has dominated the media for as long as I’ve been alive. Yet Republicans have consistently granted leftists in media the patina of legitimacy: they’ve appeared on their programs, answered their questions without quibble, and allowed the audience to believe that the questions themselves spring from a place of objectivity rather than a desire to harm Republicans.

For years, I have been begging Republicans to stand up to the mainstream media. The left has dominated the media for as long as I’ve been alive. Yet Republicans have consistently granted leftists in media the patina of legitimacy: they’ve appeared on their programs, answered their questions without quibble, and allowed the audience to believe that the questions themselves spring from a place of objectivity rather than a desire to harm Republicans.

The political damage has been near incalculable. In 2012, Clinton and George Stephanopoulos singlehandedly redirected the presidential election narrative by asking Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney about banning contraceptives — a policy that no Republican had advocated at any point during the campaign. A few months later, CNN’s in-house Barack Obama serviceperson Candy Crowley won the second presidential debate by wrongly telling Romney that Obama had labeled Benghazi a terrorist attack.

So why haven’t Republicans fought back? Because Republicans have had a collective action problem. For each Republican willing to label George Stephanopoulos a political hack, there’s a camera-loving John McCain willing to grant Stephanopoulos the premise of neutrality for a bit of airtime. For every Republican willing to ask CNBC moderators about their history of leftist questioning, there’s a John Kasich willing to praise the moderators as open-minded and fair.

All this came to an end last week. CNBC, in its gauche attempt to grab ratings, set up a rogue’s gallery of leftists, all of whom proceeded to berate, bash, and browbeat the various candidates into looking foolish. That continued until Senator Ted Cruz, R., Texas, put a stop to it: “This is not a cage match … how about talking about the substantive issues people care about?” Cruz pointed out, correctly, that none of the questioners would be voting in a Republican primary — the implication being that the moderators have priorities other than asking honest questions. That started the pile-on. Senator Marco Rubio, R., Fla., jumped in and called the media Hillary Clinton’s Super PAC. Governor Chris Christie, R., N.J., bashed moderator John Harwood for being rude, even by New Jersey standards.

And then the candidates came together and said they would no longer abide by rules set by a ratings-seeking, leftist media, and the ratings-seeking, donation-machine Republican National Committee. Instead, they would approve moderators in advance, and demand that those asking the questions be held up to a standard of decency.

The media, naturally, went nearly insane over this slight. Like pearl-clutching CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla, who peckishly refused to let Cruz answer his question on Obamacare after Cruz slapped the media, the members of the media insisted that the real offenders were the intransigent Republicans. Then the Democratic National Committee announced that MSNBC host Rachel Maddow would be moderating a live presidential forum, humiliating that argument.

The Republican willingness to partake in its own political demise has undermined conservatism for years. Now the mask is off. Thanks to CNBC for that.

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