People have been talking about it for a while. RNC head Reince Priebus himself raised the possibility, and now the RNC’s list of sanctioned televised presidential debates includes “Conservative Media Debate.” The problem is that there are no concrete plans for such a debate, which the RNC has labeled “pending” and “TBD.”
Fox News, CNN, NBC, CBS, and ABC will each host at least one debate with the Republican presidential candidates, but last year’s endless string of debates left both the candidates and the voters frustrated. Why? Because the mainstream media moderators ask questions that are often inflammatory, loaded, or otherwise inconsequential to most Republican voters.
Who can forget Newt Gingrich slapping down the moderators and getting a tidal wave of support during the 2012 cycle? The Republican base is suspicious of the mainstream media, and for good reason. Moderators from television news outlets often lean left and encourage candidates to attack each other, undermining the party and eventual nominee. The RNC has taken a positive step forward in limiting the sanctioned debates to nine (down from 20 in 2012) with three more pending.
Even if the RNC doesn’t organize a conservative media debate, we should have one anyway. Some of the moderators could be Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, Mark Levin, Ann Coulter, Dana Loesch, and Glenn Beck. In fact, Beck could host the debate and broadcast it on The Blaze TV, his news network.
It’s not such a crazy notion. These figures have millions of fans and are acquaintances with most of the prospective candidates. If a major television channel would host the debate, it would undoubtedly attract a massive audience. It’s estimated that Sean Hannity draws about 15 million weekly listeners on his radio program, Mark Levin and Glenn Beck each accumulate about 8 million, and Laura Ingraham attracts 5 million.
A presidential debate hosted by conservative media would have many benefits:
A debate for the people.
You don’t get to 15 million listeners without knowing what ordinary Americans care about.
With conservative media figures as moderators, Republican voters could relax knowing they are getting a debate with hosts that are on their side, unconcerned with ratings or liberal agendas.
No “Mickey Mouse.”
When Chris Wallace asked Gingrich about his campaign’s struggles in a 2012 Fox News debate, Gingrich called him out for the “Mickey Mouse” questions. It’s exactly this sort of waste of time that a conservative presidential debate would avoid.
Conservative moderators will forego “gotchya questions,” attempts at making the candidates look silly, or getting the candidates to fight among themselves. Instead, the moderators will focus on the important issues facing the nation.
Cut the crap.
Do you really think that Laura Ingraham or Mark Levin are going to let candidates drone on endlessly?
Although no debate is going to be without platitudes and talking points, candidates will have to be laser-sharp on policy and their plans for the presidency, or face the consequences.
Engage on the important issues.
Candidates will enjoy a forum where they can talk extensively about things that really matter to the Republican voters. Instead of getting bogged down in stuff like climate change, he-said-she-said, and tax returns, viewers should expect to hear about how candidates will deal with the debt crisis, chronic underemployment, the out-of-control bureaucracy, the welfare state, and health care reform.
Finally, a Republican debate with conservative moderators could give a mainstream audience a more wholesome look at conservatism and liberty principles. Conservative media won’t pass up a chance to attract more people to the cause of freedom.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the top figures in conservative media and how each would bring a unique angle to the debate.
One of Beck’s top concerns has always been the make-up of the man, and he may ask candidates tough questions about their character and source of inspiration. Additionally, he could ask about their approach to cracking down on government corruption. This topic would be especially relevant given the latest scandals plaguing the EPA, IRS, HHS, DOJ, and NSA.
Coulter will want to know how the candidates plan on winning the general election. How will they appeal to a broad electorate and beat the Democrat nominee while sticking to their principles?
Hannity often emphasizes a solution-oriented agenda for the GOP, so he is going to want specifics in each candidate’s plan for foreign policy and the economy.
Ingraham was a serious player in the 2014 Republican primaries, putting a spotlight on immigration reform. She helped make Dave Brat famous before he went on to defeat the pro-amnesty House Majority Leader. Viewers can expect Ingraham to ask tough questions on illegal immigration and the border crisis.
As an eight-year veteran of the Reagan administration and a constitutional scholar, Levin brings a no-nonsense perspective that puts conservative principles above everything else. Levin’s queries should give the viewers a good sense of which candidates will take their oath to uphold the Constitution seriously.
Some candidates talk about governing, others talk about principles. Malkin will cut through all the platitudes and press the candidates on how they plan to tackle the cronyism in DC, get America on the right track, and champion the promise of liberty.