If you pay moderate attention to world events, unless you have been comatose or have the cognitive capacity of a bowl of soup you are no doubt aware that Republicans held their first primary debate(s) to choose the party’s candidate for the 2016 Presidential campaign last week.
As the reader is no doubt aware, roughly 16% of households – over 24 million people – watched the prime time debate, the largest audience ever for a non-sporting event on cable television.¹
Given the viewer volume, one must conclude that folks were expecting something…well…different…than what had come before. Given the reaction online and as reported by the media, it is obvious that we got something very different.
Thank you, Donald.
Donald Trump’s candidacy was – clearly and unequivocally – the debate…ummm…trump card.
Post-debate consensus has it that – by default if not by intent – the prime-time debate was All-Trump-All-The-Time. Not that the focus is, was or should be on The Donald, but that his candidacy changed the otherwise very predictable and, often, very boring game.
Another consensus has quickly developed into a meme: “The fix is in.”
So sayeth the Internet and many in the media.
Many folks, Liberal and Conservative alike, believe Fox (and, in particular, debate moderator Megyn Kelly) had it in for Donald Trump.
The argument goes that Fox and the GOP (which had zilch to do with developing the debate questions) sought to derail Trump in favor of an establishment or some other GOP candidate.
To hear Trump supporters or anti-establishment conservatives/Republican tell it, The Donald has been targeted because ‘he tells it like it is, makes waves and answers to no one’ – that he isn’t a ‘Tool’ for the ‘powers that be’ – so the GOP (and Fox) wanted him gone.
Friends and readers know that Hunter is no Party guy. They know I have no skin in the game vis the Republican Party – neither for nor against. I’ve previously written of flirting with Trump support, and of why I’ll now never vote for him.
That being said, I hope that those who respect telling it like it is will now be consistent, because it’s time to get real and lay down some tough love:
Stop whining & stop spreading nonsense
Attn. folks butthurt about the debates, crying for The Donald and his bruised ego: put on your big boy (or girl) pants. Deal with reality. This is a Presidential race, not a Prom King vote.
We have a Presidential race to win. Your irrational blather about alleged unfairness and your obsession with The Donald is risking us the White House.
Attn conspiracy peddlers (Liberal and Conservative alike): take off the tinfoil hats & stop drinking the Kool Aid….and by all means check your own premises.
What you watched wasn’t a Get-The-Donald-Prop-Up-The-Establishment Reality TV Show, it was diligent and thoughtful journalists drilling folks who desire The Big Office, Pen and Phone.
I realize you expected something else – perhaps an end of the night dance and GOP kiss on the mouth from Fox. No doubt what you watched confused you because of what it was, but be thankful. We got a Presidential primary debate; warts, blemishes and kicked open closet doors included.
We’re all rational adult here (I hope). At the risk of sounding condescending or of boring you to tears, I will break down the claim that Donald Trump was targeted in favor of other candidates and that the questions posed to him were unfair.
I’ll remind the reader that for an argument to be logical (and thus to be taken seriously) each of that argument’s underlying premises must be correct. If there are contradictions or false premises, the argument as it stands is invalid.
I do not need to remind the reader that defending an invalid claim based on an illogical argument is on par with defending belief in the existence of the Tooth Fairy.
I’ll first state your basic argument, Trump apologists, as concisely and clearly as possible. Please forgive me if I am inaccurate in presenting your case:
Donald Trump was targeted by the moderators, who asked unfair questions which were less about his policy positions and more about his persona, designed to embarrass him. The purpose was to derail his candidacy in order to benefit pre-chosen establishment (or other) GOP candidates.
I’ll now repeat: check your premises.
Here they are:
- Fox and the GOP do not want Donald Trump as the GOP candidate.
- The purpose of the the specific questions posed to Donald Trump were to embarrass him and to derail his candidacy.
- The questions asked of him were unfair.
If any of these three premises fall, so falls the “the fix is in” meme.
Here’s the rub: These three are NOT the only premises one must accept and present to make the case.
For example, in order to accept premise #1, one must also believe that Fox intended to push ANY particular GOP candidate and that they think Trump is the wrong person for the job, which of course necessarily means one must also believe that Fox has a vested or personal interest in seeing some PARTICULAR GOP candidate(s) succeed, which necessarily ALSO means one must believe that Fox prefers that a particular party take the White House.
As another example, in order to accept premise #3, one must necessarily believe that the questions asked of Trump were too tough because they were so personal and pointed, that others were NOT asked nearly so embarrassing or tough questions, AND believe that they are difficult to respond to.
The above examples demonstrate the concept of “smuggled premises”; the underlying, hidden & unstated yet necessarily critical premises of an argument that are brought in which one must accept and use in order to make or to accept that argument.
While the above numbered premises are the ones most consistently offered, there are numerous underlying, smuggled premises one must accept and make use of to believe the ‘fix is in’ claim.
The following is a graphic of those premises – an upside down premises tree – in hierarchical order, beginning with the branches – the above three openly stated premises and working downward to the roots.
One need look no further that the mainstream media’s reaction to the debate to recognize that, contrary to the beliefs of many, the debate questions were indeed fair. Ask Slate, an online politics and news site which, historically, has hardly been a fan of Fox or of Conservatives and Republicans. According to one senior writer
They [the moderators] asked well-worded and thought-out questions that highlighted major differences within the Republican Party on a number of topics²
If a site like Slate can recognize the fundamental fairness of the debate, despite it’s own built in biases, surely we conservatives can.
Perhaps Trumpsters would like to hear it from the bane of many a Conservative’s existence, the New York Times. That Grey Lady, stymied by the fundamental fairness and the …gasp….journalistic excellence…. of the Fox team, acknowledges that the debate was
an opportunity to demonstrate that their network is not, as its critics have charged, a blindly loyal propaganda division of the Republican Party, that Fox journalists can be as unsparing toward conservatives as they are with liberals, and that they can eviscerate with equal opportunity if they choose.³
One may feel free to continue to believe that the Fix Is In, just as one may continue to believe in the Tooth Fairy. What conspiracy theorists can not do, however, is continue to expect that anyone ought take such silly, illogical arguments and (given their stated insistence that the media should not be biased) – their hypocrisy on this issue – seriously.
- “GOP Debate Attracts Record TV Audience” – Time – 8/7/2015 – http://time.com/3989007/gop-debate-ratings-donald-trump/
- “The Fox News Debate Was Classic Fox News. It Was Also Great” – Slate – 8/7/2015 –
- “Fox News Moderators Bring A Sharpened Edge To The Debate Stage” 8/7/2015 –