What the heck was Fox News thinking? That’s the question I left with after watching last night’s second Republican primary presidential debate.
Not to say some candidates didn’t acquit themselves very well, including Ron DeSantis, Doug Burgum, and Vivek Ramaswamy (in my opinion), but it is to say that the overall production hovered somewhere between a dumpster fire and testicle cancer. All of that can be traced back to the moderators. As was mentioned in my post-debate article about Univision’s Ilia Calderón, who was inexplicably allowed to be a moderator by Fox News and the Ronna McDaniel-led RNC, it felt like you were watching an MSNBC primetime show at points.
To give one example, Calderón actually blamed United States citizens for the fentanyl crisis in an astonishing attempt to pass the buck from Mexico and China.
Calderón goes on to blame Americans for the Fentanyl crisis and the drug trade coming across the southern border. pic.twitter.com/0JpsvcjQBA— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) September 28, 2023
That’s a talking point I’d expect to hear from the lips of Kamala Harris, not from a moderator at a Republican debate. It is insulting and disgusting to solely blame users while absolving the very cartels (and the nations supporting them) who are providing the deadly drugs in the first place. That’s not to say people don’t have agency, but addiction to hard drugs quickly becomes involuntary.
In another example, Calderón decided to white-knight for the Mexican government, sharing their criticisms as some kind of authority. That was in response to some candidates suggesting military action to take down the drug cartels that are killing hundreds of thousands of people a year via their distributions, never mind the associated violent crime.
In another instance of why Republicans shouldn't submit themselves to questions from a biased press, Calderón pedded Kamala Harris's BIG LIE about what Florida teaches about slavery.— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) September 28, 2023
DeSantis pushes back. pic.twitter.com/pkhU5Wk59G
Then, there was this exchange in which Calderón claimed that gun violence is “unique” to the United States.
Governor Ron DeSantis calls out Biden and Trump for being "missing in action."— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) September 28, 2023
"He should be on this stage tonight. He owes it to you to defend his record where they added 7.8 trillion to the debt. That set the stage for the inflation that we have." pic.twitter.com/WJqG0MmObx
That’s just completely false. Mexico is a haven for gun violence, as are several Central American countries. Further, as is pointed out above, if things are so awful here, why is illegal immigration overwhelming the Southern Border? Pick one.
But that was the theme of the night for Calderón. Her entire schtick was presenting America as some kind of hellscape while fluffing foreign interests. Is that really what GOP voters should be getting at their own debate?
It wasn’t just Calderón, though. The other moderators also did a terrible job of managing the stage, and there was one especially horrible “question” at the end of the event.
Ron DeSantis shuts down Fox's #GOPdebate gimmick about voting someone off the island:— Never Back Down (@NvrBackDown24) September 28, 2023
"I'll decline to do that… We're happy to debate. I think that that's disrespectful to my fellow competitors… Let's talk about the future of the country!" pic.twitter.com/PJrQQfXHzI
I’m not trying to be hard on Dana Perino, but her attempt to get the candidates to play a faux game of Survivor was ridiculous. It perfectly encapsulates why so many have turned away from Fox News. We don’t want silly, manufactured drama. We want results, and we want a “conservative” news network that can keep its eye on the ball instead of morphing into the equivalent of a CNN broadcast.
Thankfully, DeSantis was ready to step in and shut the entire ordeal down. Perino then appeared to get upset and randomly challenged him on his poll numbers (something completely unrelated to the segment). The Florida governor responded in flawless fashion, actually turning it into one of his biggest wins of the night, but it never should have gotten that far.
Fox News needs to do some soul-searching, and the RNC shares in the blame as well. I understand wanting to appeal to a broader demographic, but forgetting who you are is how you end up broke and busted, both as a news organization and as a political party. GOP debates should not include rabid illegal immigration advocates as moderators. The candidates shouldn’t be constantly asked questions framed from a left-wing standpoint. There is no controversy in saying that.