(WJBK) - Just like death and taxes, you know that after a presidential debate, it's predictable that everyone will ask who lost.
Last week the real losers were the debate moderators who stepped on one rhetorical landmine after another and tarnished the already lackluster image of the main stream media. If journalists are suppose to be fair, their critics contend they missed the mark.
The GOP candidates on stage took advantage and scored big points by calling out the moderators for one alleged miscue after another. Bashing the news media plays well for the conservative GOP base.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christe, who reminds you a lot of former Michigan Gov. John Engler who also had a bully-like and take no-prisoners air about him, scored big on NBC's veteran John Harwood. The reporter asked a question and then interrupted the governor who shot back, "No, John. Do you want me to answer, or do you want to answer?" And for good measure he said even in New Jersey what Mr. Harwood was doing was "rude."
The answer brought the house down.
Then there was U.S. Senator Marco Rubio who took a shot while talking about Super PACS. He noted that the Democrats have their own Super Pack: The Main Stream Media. Thunderous applause.
And there's more.
At one point, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz was tossed a question on the recent Congressional budget deal but instead of answering that he vamped into something else. When his minute was up, he tried to answer the budget question but one of the moderators would have nothing to do with that. He lectured Mr. Cruz that his time was up. Mr. Cruz's jaw dropped and the audience pounced on the moderator for blocking him. Somebody in the control booth must have seen how awful that looked because later on, one of the other moderators gave Mr. Cruz a chance to answer the budget question.
Donald Trump,who never met a reporter's question he didn't like, opined at one point that the questions were "nasty and ridiculous." The audience loved it.
But the knock-out punch of the night came from Mr. Cruz who summed up the questions this way. "This is not a cage match...how about talking about the substantive issues people care about," he went in for the kill, "nobody watching at home believes that any of the moderators have any intention of voting in a Republican primary." Pow. Boom. Pop.
The joint went nuts.
And then when it was all over, it was left to the national GOP chair, Reince Pribus, to blast CNBC suggesting it should be "ashamed" as he rejected the "gotcha questions" and a "hostile environment."
Moderators are suppose to be like umpires, if they are getting it right the audience does not notice them.
Mission not accomplished.