GOP candidates run into trouble on Fox News

Republican presidential candidates seem to be running into trouble on Fox News, and Politico Magazine is more than happy to point it out.

Saying that the Republican National Committee’s plan to have more objective and conservative debate moderators might backfire, Bill Scher outlined some of the recent gaffes made by 2016 hopefuls on the Republican “friendly” news network.

“What was a play to keep their candidates safe inside a conservative cocoon now looks like a trap.” Scher wrote for Politico. “The first Republican presidential debate will air on Fox News and will be moderated by Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace—who happen to be the same three anchors that have provoked three Republican candidates into embarrassing gaffes this month. Turns out Fox News’ anchors can make Republican candidates look just as bad as MSNBC’s.”

Highlighting Jeb Bush’s mistake on Megyn Kelly’s show, Marco Rubio’s trouble on Chris Wallace’s program, and Scott Walker’s gaffe with Bret Baier, Scher points out that many of the Republican contenders don’t seem to be taking Fox News hosts seriously.

In the past, Scher explained, “Republicans could try the ‘blame the media’ strategy to limit the damage” of messy answers, or unartful responses. But with Fox News moderating the first primary debate for 2016 “when Republicans shoot themselves in the foot on the debate stage, they won’t have that option.”

Most of Scher’s criticism of the candidates is well founded. Someone running for president with the last name “Bush” should probably have a better prepared answer about the Iraq war than the one Jeb gave to Megyn Kelly. Marco Rubio and Scott Walker should both give serious consideration to how they’re going to address their complex history with immigration reform.

After all, we live in an age where anything, and everything, said in front of a camera can make its way around the internet within seconds. An interview with a Fox news anchor should be taken just as seriously as an interview with an MSNBC commentator. The relatively conservative viewers of Fox will not be the only ones watching and judging the presidential hopefuls.

Most of the fault, according to Scher, belongs to the candidates themselves who he claims don’t consider the Fox News team to be any threat to their campaigns.

“The entire Fox News operation can feel like a Republican clubhouse,” Scher alleges. “Instead of preparing for a high-stakes interview, candidates act like they’re coming over for a drink. In turn, they don’t prepare tight answers for predictable questions.”

Scher’s criticism of the candidates almost devolves into a laundry list of recent Republican gaffes. Unsaid in the piece, however, is the glaring fact that Fox News is proving not to be an extension of the RNC. In contrast to most of its dominantly liberal competitors, Fox has actually demonstrated a strong commitment toward being fair and balanced.

Unlike the kid-glove treatment liberals might expect MSNBC to give Democrat contenders, Republicans are likely to find a sharp and impressive journalistic approach from the hosts at Fox News.  After all, it’s hard to imagine George Stephanopoulos showing the same level of journalistic integrity while interviewing Hillary Clinton.

“One thing is for sure,” Scher concludes, “if the RNC and the presidential candidates thought beginning its debate season on Fox News would be like spring training, the recent spate of gaffes committed on Fox News should be a wake-up call that everyone needs to get into shape a lot faster.”

And that is absolutely accurate. Fox News gives the RNC and Republican hopefuls objectivity, not political cover. And really, that’s what Republicans wanted when they demanded a change in moderators.

After the 2012 debates, the RNC took a stand against liberal bias in the primary debates, and their wish has been granted. Now it’s time for the candidates to step up to the plate.

Michael Schaus

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