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Cruz Slams CNBC For Tenor of Questions

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) lashed out at CNBC moderators and the media in general during the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night.

Cruz suggested the moderators were trying to turn the debate into a cage match with accusatory questions, like asking if Donald Trump was a comic book villain or if a candidate could add, while by contrast in the CNN debate, he said every "fawning" question was 'which of you is most handsome and wise?"

Moderator Carlos Quintanilla laughed off the exchange, but the crowd shouted its approval.

That followed Sen. Marco Rubio (D-Fla.) response to a question about his missing lots of Senate votes, which he said was an example of the liberal media taking aim at a Republican.

Carly Fiorina at one point took aim at the FCC's new network neutrality rules, saying the FCC had put 400 pages of regulations on the net, though she also said big Internet companies had pushed for them, presumably referring to edge providers and not the ISPs who clearly were not.

Gov. Jeb Bush was asked whether he thought fantasy football leagues should be regulated as gambling. Bush joked he was 7-0 in his league, but said it needed to be looked at, calling it daytrading without any regulation. He said the NFL might want to distance itself, but says he didn't know if it needed more regulation.

Gov. Chris Christie was not so happy with the questions either, saying to John Harwood at one point: "Even in New Jersey what you are doing is called rude."

Appropriately, the debate's waning moments featured another "candidate versus the media moment."

Donald Trump used most of his closing remarks to point out that CNBC wanted the debate to be three, three-and-a-half hours so it could sell its $250,000-per 30-second spot, but he put his foot down and the debate became 2 hours.

John Harwood shot back that the debate was always going to be two hours. Trump said that was not true and Harwood knew it. 

Trump told CNBC afterwards that Hillary had gotten much softer questions than the Republican candidates, but that maybe they had negotiated a "better deal."

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said CNBC should be ashamed of itself and tweeted after the debate:
"In spite of the moderators, I'm proud of our team for standing up against the improper and unprofessional display put on by CNBC."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.