Who you saw as the winner of last night’s Republican primary debate is largely a Rorschach test.
As is often the case with these wide-field debates, you could easily make a case for any of the candidates having had the best night. (Well, maybe not Chris Christie.)
What’s not nearly as debatable, however, is who had the roughest night of them all.
Fox News, which presented the debate, had its work cut out from the beginning. The network had the unenviable task of broadcasting the first Republican debate without the leading candidate, Donald Trump.
(The former president instead took to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, for a revealing interview with Tucker Carlson.)
Even without the star attraction, however, Fox could’ve salvaged the night by keeping the candidates in check, keeping discussions brief and substantive, and sticking to topics relevant to what Republican voters actually care about.
By this writer’s humble calculations, Fox went an embarrassing 0-3 on that particular scorecard.
The first two failures (not keeping candidates in check and not keeping debates brisk) are somewhat common in any debate presentation, to be fair.
Still, it was rather comical seeing former Vice President Mike Pence ignore the time restraints to deliver his wooden message. It was jarring to see off-topic, Trumpian bickering among the candidates, particularly when things devolved between Christie and Vivek Ramaswamy.
But again, these sins are hardly unique to Fox News. You will see the same criticisms hurled at CNN and MSNBC when they’re the ones hosting a debate.
No, where Fox really lost the plot was with its choice of questions.
At best, you could describe them as irrelevant. At worst, you could say that these questions exposed just how sorely out of touch Fox is with its purported base.
Where to even begin?
How about with a question about UFOs, which actually drew a snide remark from Christie and laughter from the crowd?
It’s the job of the President of the United States to be straight up. I’ll do that whether we’re talking about crime, education, foreign policy, and yes, even our little green friends. pic.twitter.com/dLmZIwKSgR
— Chris Christie (@GovChristie) August 24, 2023
Or how about the far-left cause of climate change? Whatever you may think of mankind’s ability to change the weather, it’s certainly not a winning topic for Republicans.
Viewers certainly noticed Fox’s peculiar choice of questions:
DeSantis: acted Presidential; emerged unscathed
Haley: showed her foreign policy chops
Vivek: exposed as an imposter. Took a lot of hits.
Pence: don’t even know what to say
Fox News: climate change question?
— Mayor of DeSantisville (@DeSantisville) August 24, 2023
“Biggest loser in tonight’s debate? FOX News,” one X user posted. “RNC, fix this!” (For what it’s worth, The Hill agreed with that assessment.)
Biggest loser in tonight’s debate? FOX News. It was a REPUBLICAN debate. What Republicans are talking about climate change, homelessness & UFO’s? Gimme a break. RNC, fix this!
— Chuck Muth (@ChuckMuth) August 24, 2023
Just as noticeable as what was asked was what wasn’t asked — namely, a question on the red-hot topic of transgenderism. When something has torpedoed brands like Bud Light and Target, one can assume American voters care about it.
Fox hardly broached the subject at all, with the moderators only mentioning it once in relation to women’s sports.
I am not actually shocked, to be clear. Fox is in favor of transing kids so this was to be expected. Still, it’s disgraceful.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) August 24, 2023
FOX popped the UFO question but not “should we keep transitioning children?”
— Chloe Cole ⭐️ (@ChoooCole) August 24, 2023
So, Fox News exposed itself as horribly out of touch with Republican voters and probably turned off swathes of prospective viewers who may have tuned in to give the beleaguered network a second chance.
It couldn’t get worse… right?
Ep. 19 Debate Night with Donald J Trump pic.twitter.com/ayPfII48CO
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) August 24, 2023
The above is Trump’s interview with Carlson. It’s been embedded for your viewing pleasure, but there’s a good chance you’ve seen it already.
Why? Because that X video has already garnered over 200 million views as of this writing. That’s a massive number — and one that will certainly put Fox to shame.
It’s just another reason why Fox News will want to quickly forget about last night’s Republican debate.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.