Ted Cruz Was Tonight’s Big Winner? Seriously?

I just took my first look around at post-debate commentary, and there seems to be a consensus that Ted Cruz was the night’s big winner.

Ted Cruz? I barely even noticed him most of the night. How did he end up getting so much pundit love? The answer, it turns out, lies in one (1) exchange early in the debate. Here’s what Cruz said after getting a question about his opposition to John Boehner’s budget deal:

You know, let me say something at the outset. The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media. This is not a cage match. And, you look at the questions — “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 people care about?

That’s it. It got huge applause, of course. Attacks on debate moderators, and the media more generally, always do at Republican debates. I even thought about doing a post rounding up all the shots the candidates took at the media tonight, but then thought better of it.

Anyway, I took Cruz’s attack on the moderators as basically a cheap—and frankly kind of stale—applause line, and thought nothing more about it. But I guess it was actually one of the highlights of the debate. This does not speak well for the overall quality of tonight’s proceedings.


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.