The third GOP presidential debate was supposed to be centered around the economy, but it didn’t take long for everyone to see it was really about something much more sinister. As the candidates fielded question after biased question from the CNBC moderators, viewers were treated to a rare display: liberal journalists no longer even pretending to be fair. Each question was more inflammatory than the last, and by the middle of the debate, the crowd gathered at the University of Colorado was openly booing the moderators.

Finally, Senator Ted Cruz had had enough. “Nobody watching at home believes that any of the moderators have any intention of voting in a Republican primary,” Cruz said, ignoring a question about the debt limit. “The questions asked so far illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media. This is not a cage match.”

Cruz asked the moderators to return to substantive issues, but liberal bias in the mainstream media remained the sub-theme of the night. And if Republicans wanted to use Wednesday night to prove a point about that bias, they could have hardly asked for a better foil than CNBC.

But the candidates weren’t just pitted against the media. The first sparks flew between Governor John Kasich and Donald Trump. Kasich said Trump and Ben Carson were floating fantasy scenarios for the conservative base. “We cannot elect somebody who does not know how to do the job,” he said.

Trump was ready, though, and he turned the tables on the struggling Kasich.

“He was such a nice guy,” Trump said. “And he said, ‘Oh, I’m never going to attack.’ Then his poll numbers tanked! That’s why he’s on the end. And he got nasty. So you know what? You can have him.”

There was also notable tension between Governor Jeb Bush and his padawan, Senator Marco Rubio. Bush took advantage of a question about Rubio’s spotty vote record in the Senate. “Marco, when you signed up for this, this is a six-year term and you should be showing up to work,” Bush said. “You get like three days where you have to show up. You can campaign, or just resign and let someone else take the job.”

Rubio was as ready as Trump, accusing Bush of pandering for political points. After ruminating on Bush’s support of John McCain in 2008 and McCain’s similar record of missed votes, he said the only reason Bush was turning against him was “someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”

But even with these pointed jabs, the prevailing sentiment after the debate was that CNBC had overplayed their hand.

And that’s why this may have been the most important GOP debate thus far. It was a good night for Rubio and several others, but it was an extremely good night for anyone who still isn’t convinced that there is a liberal bias in the mainstream media. That’s important, because you have people like John Boehner and Mitt Romney out there right now telling the world that conservative media is to blame for Republican fractures.

Conservative media is the most powerful tool we have against the omnipresent mainstream media. Presidential debates are supposed to be about the issues, but there’s no more important issue out there than this. The media has a powerful voice in this country. If all the TV channels and newspapers are marching in lockstep, it has a subtle but profound effect on the electorate. And as long as that’s the state of things, it will be very difficult for conservatives to change the country.

No, CNBC’s woeful performance isn’t going to convince the media establishment to change their ways. But it was a stunning insight into how obviously biased these “reporters” really are. In a year where every channel is talking about the “clown show” on the right, there’s no revelation more important.