The Saturday night Republican debate in South Carolina created more headlines over how the coverage was botched by CBS than for what the candidates actually said in their 60 minute – I mean - 90 minute forum.
The debate was split between CBS (for 60 minutes) and on the internet for the last 30 minutes. But CBS affiliates in South Carolina thought they were getting the last chunk as well, and so they were a bit surprised when a NCIS repeat suddenly came on instead of more questions from CBS anchorman Scott Pelley.
“We are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused and for any confusion Mr. Pelley's comments have caused by telling South Carolina viewers to stay tuned for more debate coverage,” said the General Manager of WSPA-TV in Spartanburg.
Other CBS affiliates in South Carolina also were left to explain to viewers what happened as well – but that wasn’t all that CBS had to explain.
Several candidates complained about their lack of air time, which is nothing new – but Michele Bachmann’s campaign accidentally received an email from inside CBS which seemed to indicate that was the plan all along.
The email chain that involved CBS political chief John Dickerson said of Bachmann, “she’s not going to get many questions” citing her low poll numbers.
Ron Paul’s camp was livid as well, charging that the Texas Congressman was asked only one question and one follow-up – with the most attention going to Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain.
“It doesn’t exactly take a rocket scientist to figure out that Ron Paul got shafted on time,” his campaign wrote in a web entry on his campaign web site.
As for what kind of news emerged from this debate – not much would be the answer.
Newt Gingrich got his usual opportunity to spar with the moderator, this time refusing to be drawn into criticism of Mitt Romney and tangling with Pelley over how to deal with terror suspects.
Some Republican supporters felt Herman Cain was a bit uncertain on the foreign policy front, as he did not have his usual 9-9-9 fallback available in this foreign policy debate.
Rick Perry had no gaffes or bad segments in this debate – his worst time on TV may have come a few hours later when “Saturday Night Live” skewered the Texas Governor over his brain freeze earlier in the week.
Evidently Cain’s sexual misconduct troubles were to get special treatment from “Saturday Night Live” as well, but that skit didn’t make the final cut for the show.
As for Mitt Romney, he once again got through a debate without much fuss or muss.
The Republicans meet again this coming Saturday night in Iowa, though Romney’s campaign has said he might not attend.