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WILLIS: When The Debate BECOMES The Debate

The big question everyone asks following a debate is “Who won?” Sometimes, as was the case in the early debate among the 2nd tier candidates, the answer is clear. Other times, as we saw from the main event featuring the top tier candidates, the answer is a bit more complicated.

The easy answer for most people is “my candidate”, but a complete answer takes more effort. It can be as simple as who gave the best answers, or as complicated as who exceeded everyone’s low expectations. While the Washington Post has declared Marco Rubio to be the big winner, I was left wondering why he was even in the race.

My candidate, Ted Cruz, was ignored a large portion of the time, following the debate Frank Luntz asked his focus group to describe Ted Cruz, and the most common of the 100% positive  answers was “next President”. In one way, the lack of attention from the moderators may have helped Cruz, indicated by the fact that his was the most Googled name during the debate. Viewers obviously wanted to know more, and this scene certainly didn’t hurt –

Post debate Cruz

The biggest losers included Jeb Bush who failed to even justify his inclusion among the top tier, and Fox News because their attempts to attack Trump were completely ineffective and made the network appear heavily biased. Fox has long been viewed favorably by Conservatives, but that reputation just took a huge hit. Some give Trump the win for simply surviving Fox’s attacks.

This begs a larger question – shouldn’t the news media be reporting on the debates rather than controlling them? Although this was billed as a debate, it was more of a 10-man press conference aimed at creating division and controversy rather than addressing substantive issues.

Look at the discussion following the ‘debate’ – most of it revolves around perceived bias of Fox, Trump’s spat with Meghan Kelly, and a little regarding the conflict between Christie and Paul. Nothing of any consequence was learned about any of the candidates’ positions on serious issues.

Perhaps it is time to let a respected non-media group such as the Heritage Foundation organize a real debate, and let the news media get back to the business of reporting.

Share your thoughts in the comment section and share this on your twitter/facebook wall for discussion.

About James P Willis

James P Willis lives with his family in Blacksburg, Virginia. He is a Cold War submarine veteran, political activist, and retired industrial mechanic. James is currently an Editor / Contributor for NewsNinja2012, a freelance writer, and his blog can be found at

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