Steve Hansen: Someone has to ask the hard questions


By Steve Hansen

Former QCS Managing Editor

I don’t know why the Republicans are slamming the CNBC journalists who moderated the GOP debate last Thursday.

Instead of protesting they should be expressing gratitude.

The reporters asked tough questions. I guess journalists are not supposed to do that to Republicans any more.

What the Republicans seem to forget, however, is that if you shine in adversity, your glow is brighter.

It was a real test, not the usual retirement-home tennis match, that viewers saw the wide GOP field confront on Thursday, and in spite of, or rather because of, their discomfort, they put on a real, revealing debate.

Ironically to me at least, they shone especially when they ganged up on the reporters and hung on them the “mainstream media” albatross that many conservatives like to hang around big journalism’s neck when facts become inconvenient.

I think Marco Rubio, who excelled in his parrying of both reporters’ questions and attacks from rival candidates, went a little too far when he called the mainstream media the Democrats’ biggest Super PAC. Super PACs are the secretive and extremely well-funded, cause-related entities that fuel the current ideology-based campaigns of both the left and right.

To apply that label to our most professional and disinterested, if imperfect, source of current, important information was unfair and inaccurate.

If you compare the news coverage in the mainstream Wall Street Journal, whose opinions lean firmly right, to that of the mainstream New York Times, whose opinions are famously liberal, however, you’ll find they cover the same stories in the same way.

The pressure of Thursday’s media grilling, however, caused the candidates to outdo themselves in emphasizing their differences without demonizing each other and galvanizing their opposition to President Obama and Hillary Clinton, even if it scratched polished veneers.

The exchanges often resembled the old McLaughlin Group, a series of rapid-fire pressure-cooker discussions that inevitably turned into shouting matches.

What emerged, however, was a clearer picture of how John Kasich differs from Ted Cruz, how Chris Christie differs from Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush differs from Marco Rubio.

Thursday’s debate was the equivalent of a pre-season pro football game, a hands-on rehearsal for the campaign grind to come. For that the Republicans should be thankful.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

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