The News Media Primary Debate

Tomorrow is the first of two Democratic Presidential candidate debates.  With so many candidates running, even splitting the debate over two nights still seems like it’s going to be too crowded a debate stage.

As a consequence, there is likely to be nothing much of interest said in this first debate(s).  How many actual chances to speak will each candidate get?  One or Two?  So we might, if we’re lucky, get a few sentences out of each candidate.  That’s a shame because some of these candidates are interesting, and I would be curious to hear some give and take with candidates like Andrew Yang or Tulsi Gabbard; two candidates who are unlikely to get more than the minimum amount of airtime.

So at this point, the real story (at least to me) won’t be what the candidates say, but how the coverage of the debate is handled by the MSM.  The debate is being shown on NBC/MSNBC, which is well known for its own biases, so how they cover the candidates, and how the other TV media cover the candidates, will be more revealing than anything the candidates say.  As a casual viewer of mainstream TV news, here are my guesses on the media’s picks for the Democratic candidate.

NBC/MSNBC:           Although the network has shown love to all of the major candidates, the one they have come down to defending has been Joe Biden.  The Morning Joe gang routinely sounds like a Biden cheering section.  My guess is that NBC/MSNBC feels like Biden has the best shot to beat Trump, and have taken an editorial position to support Biden.

CNN:              CNN doesn’t sound like it has any animus towards Biden, but hasn’t made up its mind and just wants the most leftward candidate who can beat Trump. So it seems for now they are actually being an honest broker other than mostly ignoring the candidates who are too far down in the polls to have a shot.  They may have learned their lesson with Beto to not fall in love to early.  The heartbreak is still probably painful from that.

ABC:               This network has clearly taken the editorial position that Biden can’t beat Trump and his constant gaffes are not going away.  That’s why they’re the only major TV news station (other than Fox) to cover extensively the Hunter Biden corruption scandal.  ABC seems to want to clear the field of Biden quickly to allow a more electable candidate rise up.  They just don’t know who that is yet.

CBS:               This is the mystery to me.  I honestly have not been able to get a firm handle on their positioning yet (maybe after I see their coverage of the debate) but I suspect it mirror’s CNN’s position.

Fox News:  With nothing at stake and no frantic need to push the Democratic primaries on a mission to replace Trump, their coverage seems to be the most even handed.  They’ve had several Town Halls with Democratic candidates (including a successful one by Bernie Sanders) and have had the candidates who will actually appear (most of the top tier candidates boycott Fox) as guests.  I’ve seen Gabbard and Yang multiple times on different Fox shows.

I’m curious if we’ll know by the weekend if the MSM has settled on a candidate, or at least decided on a slate of possible candidates.  Since none of the candidates will probably get to say much (with the exception of Biden; this is on NBC/MSNBC after all), the ones declared “winners” will be purely at the media networks discretion.

Stay tuned!