Two Big-Name Iowa Conservative Radio Hosts Slam Fox News' GOP “Inquisition,” Accuse Network Of Self-Promotion And Favoritism

Influential conservative Iowa talk radio hosts Steve Deace and Jan Mickelson attacked Fox News over its handling of the first GOP presidential debate. Deace slammed the news channel for asking candidates to pledge their loyalty to the eventual GOP nominee and rule out a third party run, while Mickelson characterized the moderators' sometimes sharp questioning of candidates as “an inquisition.”

Iowa Political Kingmaker Steve Deace Attacked Fox For Hyping Moderators And Demanding Republican Party Loyalty

Steve Deace Said Fox News Was Self-Promoting, Favored Bush, And Ignored Cruz. On his Aug. 7 show, Steve Deace criticized Fox News for giving the three moderators of its Aug. 6 Republican debate - Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, and Megyn Kelley - too much camera time and for paying too much attention to establishment candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at the expense of lower-profile candidates like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (emphasis added):

STEVE DEACE: Last night, the highest rated primary debate ever. And I would guess Donald Trump had a lot to do with it, and we are going to talk a lot about the candidates, but I want to start here bytalking about Fox. Because I noted this, I wrote the debate analysis for USA Today, from the conservative perspective, you can read that on their website if you don't have the paper handy, at It is still going on, by far the subject that has the longest legs with the conservatives around the country I am interacting with, whether you're our listeners, on our social media, email... is anger at Fox News.

I'm hearing people thought Megyn Kelly went out of her way to try and destroy Trump. There is a study out that shows one-third of the talk time on the air of the two hour debate was gobbled up by the Fox News moderators. In a debate of 10 candidates, 10 candidates on the stage, they spoke for one-third of the time. Yo...

Our buddy Ben Shapiro, what did he write last night on Twitter? He said, “If CNN had done this to these Republican candidates, everybody would be rightfully upset.” I heard from a lot of you who told me you thought this was clear that Fox was trying to pick the nominee again, giving so much airtime to Jeb Bush, of course he kept using it to dig a deeper hole - we will get into it throughout the course of the day.

What else did I hear? Oh I heard this one a lot, boy it seems like the moderators are debating the candidates more than they are debating each other. Heard that a lot. Heard a lot of complaints from Carson and Cruz people about long respites between questions, I think Cruz's was 45 minutes in the second half of the debate between questions he received. So a lot of complaints, a lot of people fuming at Fox, believing that they made themselves the star and not the candidate. [The Steve Deace Show, 8/7/15]

Deace Rejects Fox's GOP 'Loyalty Pledge,' Says Debate Was “A Sideshow.” Steve Deace was critical of the Fox moderators' question to candidates about whether they would all pledge their loyalty to whomever becomes the GOP nominee (emphasis added):

STEVE DEACE: The first question Fox asks last night is about a loyalty pledge to support the nominee. Ladies and gentlemen, I had a New York Times reporter ask me if Trump really hurt himself by not pledging to support the nominee. I'm like, the only people who cares about this are you and the liberal media, I told him this, only you and the liberal media and the Republican establishment, the Bushies. Do you know if I asked my audience, “Do they pledge to support the Republican nominee no matter who it is?” I bet we'd barely get 50/50. Did you listen to John Kasich's answers last night? Every one of those could have been in a Democrat debate. What's the point of voting for him?

Any of you think maybe you're thinking twice about voting Republican for the Senate last November, because, you know, by golly that sure worked out. I know you're thinking twice about it because I get all your emails, Facebooks, and tweets. And that's the first question, a loyalty pledge, from a network.

I wonder if they would have asked one of the questions they asked Trump last night, “How long have you been a Republican?” Wonder if they would have asked Ronald Reagan, a former Democrat, that question: “We are wondering governor, how long you have been a Republican?” Everything going on in the country and that's how the debate begins. And from there it was a sideshow. Very few substantive issues were discussed, in fact, the best questions were asked when we got to the Facebook questions from Fox News viewers. So, sure it was the highest rated, why? Same reason there is always a long line of traffic when there is a five car pile-up on a highway. Rubbernecking. “What crazy feces will Trump spew next?”

The moderators seemed to spend more time debating the candidates than the candidates did. Here's all you need to know: The New York Times was praising the Fox News moderators. What does that tell you? Because you know they are interested in the Republican Party putting its best foot forward, of course. [The Steve Deace Show, 8/7/15]

Deace: “Frustrated Conservatives” Are “Fuming At Fox” Following Debate. In a column for USA Today, Steve Deace renewed his criticism of Fox's debate coverage and said he “heard from frustrated conservatives across the country” that Fox was trying to undermine or ignore certain candidates:

Many conservatives were already upset at what they saw as Fox News attempting to pick the nominee during the last couple of GOP primaries, and my inbox and social media were full of similar complaints after Thursday's events.

Here's what I repeatedly heard from frustrated conservatives across the country

· Fox's moderators intentionally tried to undermine the candidates in the first debate by openly demeaning their prospects, despite the fact everyone on that stage had an impressive resume.

· Megyn Kelly seemed to make it her mission to destroy Trump.

· Fox's moderators seemed to debate the candidates more than the candidates debated each other.

· Fox seemed to mysteriously ignore candidates like Cruz and Carson for long stretches.

Of course, this is all subjective and perception is reality to people whether it's true or not. Still, very few conservatives I interacted with during and after the debate thought Fox was “fair and balanced.” [USA Today, 8/7/15]

Iowa Radio Host Jan Mickelson: Fox News' Debate Questions Amounted To An “Inquisition”

Jan Mickelson Called Fox's GOP Debate More Of A “Joint Press Conference” And Criticized Moderators' Tough Questioning Of Candidates. On his Aug. 7 show, Des Moines-based radio host Jan Mickelson condemned how Fox News ran the debate, accusing it of attempting to “bludgeon” candidates with tough questions (emphasis added):

JAN MICKELSON: Rather than me just sit here and evaluate all of it for you, and I'm not going to do that, I would rather have you, those of you who sat and watched ... it must have been good. Let me just put it this way, it must have been good and interesting because I stayed up and watched all of it. That almost never happens, seriously almost never happens. So they hooked me right up front. And what got the thing going, I think this is how the debate began.

Oh, by the way, it's not a debate, it's sort of a joint press conference. It was the inquisition on the part of the Fox News people, finding the most hookish questions with which to bludgeon the candidates upside the head. Sometimes it worked to our benefit, sometimes not so much. [The Jan Mickelson Show, 8/7/15]