Friday, April 27, 2007

Debating the Debate

It seems so far away, but the presidential campaign is in full swing. And this Thursday we were treated to the first debate, aired on MSNBC. All eight declared Democrats squared off and for the most part each candidate received equal time.

The viewing public was probably focused mostly on whether Hillary would look presidentital or if Obama would have any substance. But people like Rep. Dennis Kucinich and the unbleievably obscure former Sen. Mike Gravel were the ones who created the most excitement. But seriously, we're so far away from the election, what's the point? Will anybody even remember this debate?

In my opinoin, the answer is a resounding yes.

TVNewser has the ratings and viewership numbers for the debate on MSNBC. Over 2 million people were watching, and the usually last place MSNBC won the ratings battle for cable news. the debate also aired on the NBC network affiliates in the critical primary state of South Carolina. We may be months away from any votes being cast, but the American public is paying attention.

MSNBC hosts the first Republican debate next week, featuring titans like Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, along with the Mike Huckabees and Duncan Hunters of the world.

A lot has been written and said about this early start and the media focus on just the frontrunners limiting the ability of a Jimmy Carter like dark horse to emerge. Well MSNBC including all of these candidates and giving them equal time could provide some much needed exposure.

Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd made strong showings last night, and being on the same stage as Clinton and Obama will only raise their profiles. Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico is often overlooked in this race, but he made some provocative points about gun rights and his experience on the world stage.

So what does this all mean? It means that we're beginning the process that will determine our next leader. And it probably deserves this much time, debate and attention. The next president will determine the course of the war in Iraq, the future of our Supreme Court, and the agenda for a host of other domestic issues.

CNN and Fox News have debates scheduled for the near future. Though Fox's Republican debate on May 15th, will not include all the GOP candidates. Instead the network will limit the participants based on polling and other criteria.

But it's at least worth noting the programming that Fox News was airing while MSNBC was doing post-debate reaction and coverage.

Greta Van Sustern was doing a hard hitting story on Hugh Grant and unfortunate incident with some beans. She was also in LA for an interview with Prince von AnHalt, you know one of those weirdos who claimed to be the father of Anna Nicole's baby.

Quite a contrast in journalistic priorities and programming. I wonder if MSNBC can get Howard K. Stern during the Fox News debate on May 15th?


At Saturday, April 28, 2007, Blogger AJS said...

Just one more reason MSNBC is quickly catching CNN in the ratings. Now, if only it could do something about those random crime documentaries overnight.

At Saturday, April 28, 2007, Blogger MK said...

Could these early debates and early media attention unintentionally ween some of the lesser candidates? The big money and big notoriety needed to get media attention benefits Clinton and Obama, but not the other guys! The media should ask themselves why they invite Kucinich, Gravel and Richardson to the debates but they don't cover their campaigns! If they are worthy of coming to the debate, they should be worthy of a nightly mention next to Clinton and Obama. Edwards has been traveling the country for a year doing "newsworthy" things and he doesn't seem to get much coverage either. Media consumers should ask themselves why these 4 guys they've never heard of are being included in the debate. Is it because of the candidate or because of the media?

At Saturday, April 28, 2007, Blogger AG said...

I just honestly think that when all is said and done this much coverage this early is going to have a negative affect. While I watched the entire debate, I am sick of all the coverage being devoted to it. It is important, but just not yet. I am loyal to MSNBC, that is my favorite place for news. But, I'm not going to lie, I do not watch as much anymore because that is usually all they are talking about and it's getting very annoying. I think that we are defintely going to see this coverage will be bad for some candidates. I already think that Obama did not do as well as many people thought that he would.


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