I couldn't put my finger on it until now. I watched the varsity one live that evening, and then later that night the JV one that I had recorded while at work.
My thoughts 2/3rds into the varsity one were:
* Am I watching MSNBC?
* I'm not getting useful information.
I thought FNC was supposed to be a pro-Republican network. They seemed like all gotcha questions, having not thought much about it by then. Apparently the FNC "personalities" at least were all gushing in the days prior and following, thumping themselves on the back about what a fabulous job they did, and how carefully they came up with these perfected questions, and if we only knew how much went into it. And apparently the rest of the news media were ecstatic at the job FNC did. Now I know why.
And why I learned very little:
1) Part of it is that there were so many candidates, even with over 3 hours of time. That meant very limited time for each anyways. But the aggravating things are:
a) The candidates were limited to 30-second "answers", which is not enough time to explain anything, with any substance.
b) The moderators were not limited, and by far did more talking than any of the candidates.
Someone from another network kept track of candidate speaking time:
FINAL Talk Times:
1 Trump 10:30
2 Bush 8:33
3 Huck 6:32
4 Carsn/Crz 6:28
6 Kasch 6:25
7 Rubio 6:22
8 Chrste 6:03
9 Walkr 5:43
10 Paul 4:51
This totals just under 68 minutes of time. The show was 130 minutes long. With limited commercial breaks (thankfully). I found a report that the avg ad time per hour on cable for 2013 was 15 minutes and 38 seconds (up from 14 minutes and 27 seconds per hour in 2009). Let's say in the last two years it grew at double that rate, to 18:12 per hour, which would be almost 40 minutes in a 130 minute timespan.
So, approximately, the moderators yapped for 130 - 68 - 40 = 22 minutes of the time. While it definitely felt like much longer, from watching it, that's still more than twice the time for the candidate who got the most time amongst the candidates, and either way it still means that there was only 52% candidate content in the program.
But it's not even that, because:
i) At the time limits per answer they were only soundbite-quality, and
ii) They didn't originate with what the candidates thought was important to convey (i.e. some of their time was wasted in their having to segue).
So this afternoon I saw a re-capped clip of one question from the debate, and hit me why exactly I learned very little, aside from the math on the time. They're weren't "tough questions" (like posing to each, how do we keep Iran from getting the bomb), or really even "gotcha questions" (designed to catch you unaware of the trick in the question, to get you to screw up), what they were were "negative spin". I.e. as misrepresenting of things as possible, customized for each candidate's circumstances.
That's why I learned basically nothing from the 3+ hours. Of course the candidates are going to try to misrepresent their weaknesses, spun positively. The way around that is for the moderators to stick on a candidate after their answer and grill them, not let it stand and move on to someone else, like Fox did.
So I got misrepresentation in the answers, and also (maybe even more) in the questions. And that's why the Left thought FNC did such a knock-up job this time. Because it's what they would've done.
But if FNC was really a network for Republicans, they would've picked topics important to Republicans, and sought to bring out the differences between the candidates on them, to inform. Instead we got crap about things like Trump's bankrupties. That'll all come out in the campaign, with all other news orgs being solid Left. My problem is that FNC now talks about income inequality and racist police etc. So their (news division) being moderate Left, is that what is defined as catering to Republicans nowadays? I fear maybe it is.