Call it a campaign-season miracle: For the past 24 hours, conservatives and liberals have been united in their criticism of CNBC and debate moderators Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and John Harwood. One might expect moderators from previous debates to have some sympathy for their colleagues, but CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Fox News’s Megyn Kelly just couldn’t resist piling on. “I certainly think those moderators gave them a lot of ammunition and really made it very easy, because I do think some of the questions just seemed kind of obvious ones that they could be attacked on,” Cooper said during his Thursday night show, adding that the debate was “poorly produced” and the moderators “didn’t even have the quotes to back up what they were saying.”
AC did note that when he moderated the Democratic presidential debate, he got a “flood of emails from liberals” who accused him of being too tough on Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. “Bias is in the eye of the beholder,” he said. Panelists Brian Stelter and David Gergen both rushed to point out that Cooper actually got high marks for his debate performance.
Kelly offered real-time criticism, tweeting about Quick backing down to her old foe Trump, even though Quick was right.
Kelly’s post-debate wrap up on Wednesday night was filled with literal head-shaking. She called the whole thing “uncomfortable to watch,” and joked that perhaps the moderators are secret Republicans. “They were trying to unite the Republican party by being the foil!” Kelly said.
It seems that after tangling with Trump for weeks after the first GOP debate, one CNBC–bashing segment wasn’t enough catharsis for Kelly. On Thursday night’s Kelly File, she assembled a panel of nearly 30 voters from across the political spectrum, who all had more negative comments about CNBC.
Quick and Quintanilla had little to say about the debate, but Harwood tweeted:
In an interview on MSNBC’s Hardball With Chris Matthews, Harwood suggested the backlash wasn’t really about the moderators’ performance anyway. “There were a lot of conservatives before the debate who were urging them to go hard after the media, and that’s what they did,” he said.