The latest spin from progressives is that the questions asked at the CNBC Disaster were “the most substantive” questions asked this debate season:

Cruz ticked off the insults the CNBC moderators had lobbed Wednesday night at the assembled Republicans. “Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues?”

The crowd roared. Republican pollster Frank Luntz reported with some awe that his focus group gave Cruz’s riff a 98. “That’s the highest score we’ve ever measured,” Luntz tweeted. “EVER.”

Cruz’s attack on the moderators was smart politics, but it was almost precisely backwards. The questions in the CNBC debate, though relentlessly tough, were easily the most substantive of the debates so far. And the problem for Republicans is that substantive questions about their policy proposals end up sounding like hostile attacks, but that’s because the policy proposals are ridiculous, not because the questions are actually unfair.

Let me correct those deceptive statements before someone starts thinking that they’re substantive comments worthy of serious consideration. To do that, it’s important to provide context for the debate. CNBC signed a contract that said that this debate would be about economic issues.

John Harwood didn’t meet those expectations. He failed that test early and often. Early on, he asked Donald Trump a question that ended with him saying “Let’s be honest. Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?” That’s Klein’s idea of a substantive, hard-hitting question?

A couple minutes later, Becky Quick asked Dr. Carson a question about his tax plan, saying “Dr. Carson, let’s talk about taxes. You have a flat tax plan of 10 percent flat taxes, and, I’ve looked at it, and this is something that is very appealing to a lot of voters, but I’ve had a really tough time trying to make the math work on this.” Though this sounds like a fair question, it isn’t from the standpoint that Dr. Carson’s flat tax plan, in Dr. Carson’s words, “the rate is gonna be much closer to 15 percent.”

If these are examples of “the most substantive”, hard-hitting questions of the debate season, why are they utterly disrespectful? Why didn’t the ‘moderators’ do their homework and get the basics right? When Harwood asked Sen. Rubio about his tax plan, he got it almost entirely wrong. Here’s that exchange:

HARWOOD: Senator Rubio, 30 seconds to you. The Tax Foundation, which was alluded to earlier, scored your tax plan and concluded that you give nearly twice as much of a gain in after-tax income to the top 1 percent as to people in the middle of the income scale. Since you’re the champion of Americans living paycheck-to- paycheck, don’t you have that backward?
RUBIO: No, that’s — you’re wrong. In fact, the largest after- tax gains is for the people at the lower end of the tax spectrum under my plan. And there’s a bunch of things my tax plan does to help them.
Number one, you have people in this country that…
HARWOOD: The Tax Foundation — just to be clear, they said the…
RUBIO: …you wrote a story on it, and you had to go back and correct it.
HARWOOD: No, I did not.
RUBIO: You did. No, you did.

Sean Davis’ article settles that matter permanently by posting Harwood’s tweet saying that he “had to go back and correct it”:

John Harwood? Verified account ?
?@JohnJHarwood CORRECTING earlier tweet: Tax Foundation says Rubio benefits lowest 10% proportionally more (55.9) than top 1% (27.9%). Avg for all: 17.8%.

It’s stunning that the DNC apologists that call themselves journalists can’t even get their facts straight. They can’t even admit that they’ve made mistakes when it’s highlighted that they’ve made major mistakes. Harwood’s mistake was so bad that the Tax Foundation corrected him in a tweet…during the debate:

Scott A. Hodge ?@scottahodge
Rubio was right about his plan. Poor get larger tax benefit than the rich. #CNBCGOPdebate http://taxfoundation.org/sites/taxfoundation.org/files/docs/FF457-Charts_4.png …

These aren’t substantive, hard-hitting questions. If I wanted to write a 3,000 word article on the flimsy, unprofessional questions asked at the CNBC I could do it without much effort. When a moderator asks whether fantasy football should be regulated, the candidates should have the right to criticize the moderators.

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