After CNBC's fiasco debate in Colorado last month, Fox Business promised a “real debate” with skeptical, but not snarky, questions. And, aside from a failure to stop candidates from interrupting each other, the network delivered.
Many thought the FBN was much more substantive, others said it was more boring.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution writes that from the debate’s outset, the trio of moderators steered the candidates toward questions on economic policy – the debate’s focus – even if the eight contenders sometimes ignored their queries or twisted the answers back to a favored talking point.
There was none of the memorable show-stopping queries that marked the first three debates (think: Fox’s Megyn Kelly challenging Trump describing women as “fat pigs” and “slobs”). But the pointed policy questions elicited revealing responses.
The two leading Republican contenders, Trump and Ben Carson, were forced to explain their opposition to a minimum wage hike. A stark GOP divide over immigration policy was laid bare. So was a rift over military spending. And Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s answer on bank bailouts seemed to surprise even the moderators.
“Yes,” he flatly responded when asked whether he would let a big bank fail in the next financial crisis.
After the debate, candidates were eager to heap praise on the network’s performance.
“It stayed on business. They weren’t asking about things like fantasy football,” Trump said, invoking one of the more surprising queries in the last debate. “I think they all should be proud of the job they did.”
The Republican National Committee, which had so maligned the CNBC debate, also offered its kudos. Chair Reince Priebus said “our candidates, not the moderators, were at the center of tonight’s debate – and they were all treated with fairness and respect.”
Fox anchor Neil Cavuto seemed to relish in the afterglow of outdoing a rival.
“It wasn’t about us,” he told the Milwaukee Theatre crowd after the debate. “It was about them.”
Now the question is, how did a more civil on topic debate do in the ratings?
We'll know that answer later Today.