CNBC is taking heat for its Republican presidential debate, at least in GOP circles.
The chairman of the Republican National Committee blasted the cable channel moments after Wednesday night’s debate concluded saying it came up short.
“CNBC should be ashamed of how this debate was handled,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “While I was proud of our candidates and the way they handled tonight’s debate, the performance by the CNBC moderators was extremely disappointing and did a disservice to their network, our candidates, and voters.”
The two-hour debate was moderated by CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick and John Harwood.
Priebus is not the only one who took issue with the moderators’ performance. The candidates themselves also bashed the network.
In what was perhaps the most electric moment during the debate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz drew a strong reaction when he slammed the moderators for their questions, including one aimed at Donald Trump, in which one of the moderators asked if he’s running a “comic book” campaign.
“The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Cruz said. “This is not a cage match.”
However, Brian Steel, CNBC’s senior vice president for public relations, released a statement saying he stood by the moderators’ performance.
“People who want to be President of the United States should be able to answer tough questions,” Steel said late Wednesday night.
The CNBC face-off was the third GOP debate in the 2016 presidential race. The first, which aired on Fox News in August, drew a record-breaking 24 million viewers. The second debate, which aired on CNN last month, clocked an impressive 23 million viewers.