Curiously, gas prices did not figure prominently in the Republican debate on Wednesday in Arizona, where the candidates trained most of their fire on each other rather than on the president. But Republicans have criticized Mr. Obama for not opening more federal land to exploration, and for not approving the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada.
Emphasis added. Curiously, curiously? C’mon now. Did the candidates get to pick the questions?
Remember, the moderator was the very guy who led off the South Carolina debate by asking a candidate about his sex life. As James Freeman wrote in today’s WSJ.com‘s Political Diary (available by subscription):
CNN moderator John King will have a harder time rebutting conservative charges of bias after last night’s Republican debate in Arizona. Recall that in January Mr. King opened a Republican debate in South Carolina with a question to Newt Gingrich about an ex-wife’s report that Mr. Gingrich had suggested an “open marriage.” After an angry response from Mr. Gingrich, Mr. King defended his decision to lead with the issue because he claimed it was the top campaign story of the day and he was simply being a good reporter.
Flash forward to yesterday. Under any objective standard the campaign news of the day was Mitt Romney’s announcement of a new plan to cut tax rates 20% across the board. But Mr. King didn’t lead with it, because he first felt compelled to ask Ron Paul why he thinks Rick Santorum is “fake” and to ask Mitt Romney what he meant when he described himself as “severely conservative.” While some of the candidates referenced the Romney tax plan, Mr. King finally got around to mentioning it during a larger question to Mr. Gingrich about the possible “collision” between tax cuts and deficit-reduction. After Mr. Gingrich’s answer, Mr. King quickly shifted to Mr. Santorum to discuss his congressional earmarks.
As for another big news story — rising gasoline prices — Mr. King waited almost 90 minutes to raise that issue. Apparently there was too much “news” to cover about contraceptives before candidates were given an opportunity to critique Barack Obama’s energy policy.
Anyone who pays attention to conservative concerns about media bias would not find the limited discussion of gas prices curious.