How Fox News Won the Debate

By Brian Flood 

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:

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.

Their boss seems to agree with the positive feedback.

Former MSNBC host Abby Huntsman was also impressed with Kelly:

However, Donald Trump… not so much.

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.”

Here are some of the tweets Trump might have been referring to: