The first GOP debate of the 2016 cycle had, naturally, polarizing results for the candidates. But in the estimation of most political and media reporters, the Fox News team of Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier were the real winners last night.
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple said Kelly “killed” at the debate:
In what may survive as one of the most pivotal moments of the entire 2016 marathon, the prime time Fox News anchor put a zinger of a question in front of current front-runner Donald Trump.
Glenn Greenwald, who doesn’t have a lot of love for Fox News, shared this:
Credit where due: these questions from the Fox moderators are almost all quite good.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) August 7, 2015
E! and The Huffington Post also declared Kelly the real winner of the debate:
While we’ll leave it to the policy wonks to parse the let’s-blame-Obama-for-everything-and-then-undo-the-progress-he-made remarks, Megyn Kelly was the one with the most promising returns. She’s easily the one most likely to make it to the next debate.
The real winner of the #GOPDebate? @MegynKelly https://t.co/VdvvaKpqXg
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) August 7, 2015
Their boss seems to agree with the positive feedback.
#Break: Roger Ailes “I think that was the best political debate team ever put on television. Their performance was outstanding.” story TK — Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) August 7, 2015
Former MSNBC host Abby Huntsman was also impressed with Kelly:
Megyn Kelly is pretty darn bad ass in this debate.
— Abby Huntsman (@HuntsmanAbby) August 7, 2015
However, Donald Trump… not so much.
I really enjoyed the debate tonight even though the @FoxNews trio, especially @megynkelly, was not very good or professional! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2015
Talking Points Memo said that FNC had its own agenda, which was to narrow down the field.
Fox News’ purpose in the main 10-candidate event was made plain with the first question: an in-your-face spotlight on Donald Trump’s refusal to promise not to run as an independent candidate. And the relentless pounding of Trump—on his bankruptcies, his past support for single-payer health care and abortion rights, his “specific evidence” for claiming Mexico has dispatched criminals to the U.S. (slurs about immigrants by other candidates didn’t come up) and even his sexist tweets-—continued right on through to Frank Luntz’s post-debate focus group, designed to show how much damage Trump had sustained. It was by far the least impartial showing by debate sponsors I have seen, up to and including the disgraceful ABC-moderated 2008 Democratic event that involved a deliberate trashing of all the candidates.
TPM went on to say, “from the perspective of Fox News and its GOP allies, you’d guess the ideal denouement would be Trump crashing in the polls, to be replaced in the top ten by Carly Fiorina.” Trump took notice, telling Buzzfeed that the questions were “inappropriate” and saying that Megyn Kelly “behaved very badly.”
Wow, @megynkelly really bombed tonight. People are going wild on twitter! Funny to watch. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2015
Here are some of the tweets Trump might have been referring to:
Megyn Kelly was a disgraceful monitor. Your job is to moderate, not to attack the candidates and join the debate — NEWSL (@NewSonsLiberty) August 7, 2015
I just have to say I like @megynkelly but but she has gone over the top. She was trying to be the star instead of the candidates. #GOPDebate
— Janie Johnson (@jjauthor) August 7, 2015
How much did CNN/MSNBC/ Hillary pay @megynkelly to moderate tonights debate? #GOPDebate @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/JErLgJBUbQ
— SexyPatriots™ (@MolonLabe1776us) August 7, 2015