Editorial: Politics as Unusual - Broadcasting & Cable

Editorial: Politics as Unusual

Republican, Democratic debates bring in big ratings
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“Going to the candidates' debate” sang Paul Simon in “Mrs. Robinson.” “Any way you look at it, you lose.”

The same can’t be said of cable networks and their coverage of the presidential candidates’ debates. CNN said last week its coverage of the first Democratic debate Oct. 13 drew 15.3 million viewers and a record 4.8 million in the key 25-54 news demo.

In fact, it was the sixth-highest-rated non-sports cable telecast of all time, the network said.

Perhaps now the Democratic National Committee will rethink its decision to hold only six debates over the next year.

There is clearly an appetite and audience, with folks even wooed away from baseball playoff games to watch the hardballs fi red by Anderson Cooper.

Cooper had signaled this debate would probably be more like Fox’s first debate, with tough questioning that seemed to get under the skin of leading Republican Donald Trump.

Cooper’s opening salvo on electability pulled no punches and made for some pretty engaging TV.

With its countdown clock and action movie-promo-like intro to the debate, CNN was clearly looking to make the event appear really important.

In some ways it’s a shame that so much hype seems to be necessary, given the importance of the issues and the process. But we are human, and for many, at this juncture more than a year out from the election, Mets vs. Dodgers may indeed have more drawing power than Hillary vs. Bernie.

The Democratic debate was, appropriately enough, at the Wynn Casino in Vegas because it was a “win” for CNN and for viewers who got to see the candidates in action.

We can’t wait for the next debate, a Republican tussle Oct. 28 on CNBC. Our guess is that it will be a ratings record-setter for that network, particularly if Donald Trump is still leading the pack.

Love him or question him, Trump has brought a new energy to the primary process, along with lots of “what will he say next” excitement to politics that is making for great TV.

“Going to the candidates' debate” sang Paul Simon in “Mrs. Robinson.” “Any way you look at it, you lose.”

The same can’t be said of cable networks and their coverage of the presidential candidates’ debates. CNN said last week its coverage of the first Democratic debate Oct. 13 drew 15.3 million viewers and a record 4.8 million in the key 25-54 news demo.

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