"Democracy"


On Wednesday, Americans watched the third Republican presidential debate. Well, some Americans, anyway. The ones who could afford it. Because, in case you needed reminding, freedom isn't free. And neither was access to a debate among contenders to be the next leader of our country.

CNBC, the redheaded bastard "financial" stepchild of NBC, hosted the debate. That name might be vaguely familiar to you for such excellence in journalism as "on-air editor" Rick Santelli, one of the debate moderators, calling for a "tea party" revolution against President Obama in 2009, for trying to help homeowners whose mortgages were upside down. Clearly, one of those Liberal Media networks.

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Taking full advantage of the blessed free market bestowed upon America by God Hisself in the Constitution, CNBC made the brilliant business decision to buck the tradition of streaming the debate for free to all American citizens who might be bothered to switch over and catch a minute or two of their democracy in action during World Series commercial breaks. You want to watch? Pay the fuck up. To watch the debate online, would-be viewers had to also be cable subscribers, which, in the year 2015, a fast-growing number of Americans are not.

There was, thankfully, a workaround for cord-cutting Americans with a remote interest in the future of the White House:

Sign up for a free 7-day trial for CNBC Pro and then cancel the motherfucker like a Bristol Palin wedding. REMEMBER to set an alarm on your Obamaphone so you don’t accidentally get charged “money.” When it asks your reason for cancellation, type the words “FUCK YOU IS WHY, LOVE WONKETTE.”

Absurd that you'd have to give CNBC your credit card -- assuming you have one -- to sign up for a $29.99 per month subscription, of course, but not an obscenely expensive risk to take. Until CNBC caught on and decided to change it because it didn't want the commoners cleverly borrowing its broadcast without first agreeing to a much larger risk.

As one of our Wonkette commenters notified us, that 7-day free trial access to democracy had disappeared just minutes after the prime-time debate of the top 10 candidates was starting:

CNBC caught on and changed it so you can only sign up for a $299 year long sub and get a 30 day free trial. Doesn't look like there is a 7 day trial anymore. $299 is too much for me to risk to watch.

No one disputes that the CNBC-hosted debate was terrible. The debate started about 15 minutes late, subjecting viewers to the hosts predicting their debate would be the best of all because "CNBC's the smartest." Those "smartest" moderators were pathetically unprepared. Becky Quick, for example, asked Donald Trump about his criticism of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, which he flatly denied. Rather than immediately pointing out that Trump's criticism had come directly from his own campaign site, Quick apologized to him.

After the commercial break, she returned to the question, having remembered where she came up with it in the first place. By then, Trump was able to shrug it off, old news, oh well, you already apologized for attacking me, you mean media, next question please.

There were other such moments of sorry excuses for journalism, all of which favored the Republican candidates, who were, as per usual, allowed to get away with lie after lie after lie because the "journalists" asking questions didn't know, or care, that the candidates were lying.

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But in all of the extensive complaining by the RNC and the Republican candidates about the supposed unfairness of the questions -- all of which you can read for yourselves, right here, to judge whether they strike you as particularly unfair -- none of them have criticized CNBC for denying Americans access to the debate, unless they provided a credit card, which not every American has, and agreed to pay nearly $300 for the "privilege."

Not that we'd expect Republicans to criticize capitalism at its finest. We're talking about the same party that believes money is speech, and the more money you have, the more free speeching you should be allowed to do. And if you'd like to buy your own candidate in Congress, or your presidential election, well, make yourself a billionaire so you can afford it.

While most of the candidates on stage claimed to care about regular Americans and the middle class, none of them seem at all bothered by this burden CNBC placed on regular middle-class Americans. Maybe they hadn't heard. Or maybe they don't understand that such a requirement is a burden at all. Hell, Mike Huckabee seems to think cable is free anyway -- and that's one of the reasons he doesn't want us accepting Syrian refugees, since they're probably just trying to sneak into America to watch CNBC:

Are they really escaping tyranny, are they escaping poverty, or are they really just coming because we’ve got cable TV?

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Perhaps this seems like a petty nitpick, one of those first world problems. Boo hoo, no free cable. But it's not. It is, instead, a pretty perfect example of how corrupt and broken our system is, when it costs money to be a barely informed citizen, to be able to participate in our democracy. Hell, to even be able to vote, in some states. Even CSPAN doesn't allow Americans to watch their own Congress in action without paying for a cable subscription.

Sure, that's capitalism, ain't it grand? Except no, it's really not. It's fucked. And if Republicans want to complain about the unfairness of Wednesday's debate, they ought to spend a little less time insisting their math questions were too hard, and a little more time thinking about how undemocratic and un-American it was to charge people to watch their own democratic process in the first place.

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