Blitzer: GOP primary debates most important in U.S. history

Yahoo News | FiveThirtyEight

CNN's Wolf Blitzer told Yahoo News' Dylan Stableford Tuesday night that the Republican debates represent the biggest change from the 2008 election:

They seem to be much more significant, much more intense than they were four years ago. ... They've also been very solid. I think they've been the most important primary debates in our history. Certainly the most important I've ever covered.

One intense moment occurred in Thursday's debate, when Newt Gingrich told Blitzer that one of his questions was "nonsense." But Blitzer kept on track, and Gingrich ended up answering the question.

Florida exit polls, though, showed voters' mixed response to the debates, according to FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver. Among voters who told exit pollsters that the debates were important, Gingrich lost to Romney, but among voters who said the debates were unimportant, Gingrich fared even worse. He won voters who said the debates were the most important factor.

In his concession speech Tuesday night, Gingrich again got in a dig at the "elite media," saying signs reading "46 states to go" were meant to answer questions from the press on what he'd do after losing Florida.

Earlier Tuesday, Reuters' Jack Shafer sized up Gingrich's press-bashing:

More than any politician since Richard Nixon, Gingrich needs the press to demonize so he can change the subject whenever asked a tough question, as Juan Williamsof Fox News and John King of CNN recently dared. If historians or retired judges were asking the questions, no matter how benign, I’m sure they’d earn a powerful Gingriching, too.

Related: Chat today at 12:30 p.m. with Shafer and Adam Smith about the role journalists should play in debates (Poynter) | Yahoo News hires Olivier Knox, former congressional correspondent for Agence France-Presse, to cover the White House (Yahoo News) | Spanish photographer Ricardo Cases says of photographing the race: "Florida has everything I need to work: color, color, color, good weather and all the consequences of these four factors in the development of the society." (Time) | Miami press corps compared to wildebeests (Yahoo News)

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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