‘The Biggest Loser…Was CNBC’

By Mark Joyella Comment

At the end of Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate on CNBC, we suggested in our live blog that perhaps network executives might want to sleep in and avoid reading reviews of how CNBC did.

We thought it might not be easy reading, and we were right. The reviews range from bad–to brutal.

“There’s no getting around it: The network did a terrible job,” concluded Salon’s Jack Mirkinson. “From the moment people tuned in at 8 p.m. and saw a bunch of barely articulate anchors jabbering incoherently for an endless 15 minutes right to the second the debate met a merciful end, CNBC presented a textbook example of what not to do.”

The New York Times concluded that “the biggest loser, particularly in the minds of conservatives, was CNBC.”

Critic Ken Tucker said “this will go down as the debate that unified the Republican field–in their common contempt for the CNBC moderators.”

At Slate, Helaine Olen was blunt: “a debate that the network hoped could revive its mojo only revealed how over the hill it truly is.”

But mostly CNBC’s debate was mess—and to regular CNBC viewers, a familiar one. How bad was it? Straight-ahead moderators John Harwood and Becky Quick seemed to be broadcasting from Planet Face the Nation, lobbing serious policy questions. Meanwhile, the more flamboyant Cramer and Santelli practically competed for overacting honors.

Cramer all but screamed his question about prosecuting GM executives to Chris Christie, maybe to con his audience into thinking he was playing hardball when he was lobbing a softie.

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