Indeed, in the words of Reagan’s own Attorney General Ed Meese, “After 15 minutes it was clear that this was not a debate, but a verbal shooting gallery set up by CNBC, with the targets the Republican candidates and the shooters their biased antagonists from the press.”
...The Republican National Committee offered sanctioned debates to left-leaning networks such as NBC and CNN, yet offered nothing to actual conservative opinion leaders such as ... Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity ... and Mark Levin, who together influence more Republican primary voters than all the television networks combined. As a result, the past three debates have come across as reality television instead of a serious debate on the issues.
Hayward adds some compelling observations:
This is a terrific idea. Why not let conservatives with enormous audiences moderate a debate about conservative politics?
Their presence would surely bring additional viewers, along with a tremendous amount of media synergy. Any network marketing department worth its salt – including mainstream media networks – should salivate at the thought of people like ... Levin, Limbaugh, [and] Hannity ... talking up a debate for days beforehand on their popular radio and television shows.
...Republican primary voters ... deserve a chance to see their candidates respond to questions from the top names in conservative media. Some argue that it’s useful to see the GOP candidates go through trials by fire at the hands of liberal moderators, but it would also be instructive to see how they handle a grilling from Mark Levin.
For that matter, why don’t we let Democrats go through a trial by fire for once, and give them a debate moderated by conservative opinion leaders?
Dare to dream, John: I wouldn't count on the last sentence ever coming to fruition. Democrats require a reality distortion field to survive an election unscathed. A couple of interrogations by the likes of Mark Levin would expose the Leftist frauds for what they are: Marxist kooks in pantsuits.
Relatd: FLASHBACK: Will Mark Levin Actually Moderate the GOP Debates? Exclusive Interview with RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer (8/16/2013). Hat tip: BadBlue News.