Seen Enough Debates?

Many Republicans, not least National Review staffers, have perhaps been perplexed and annoyed by the sheer frequency of the GOP presidential debates so far this year. While the likes of Herman Cain and Gary Johnson may provide more entertainment than the drier candidates of 2008, we’ve now had eight debates with eight or so candidates, and they’ve begun to be quite repetitive — but their ratings haven’t begun to slide. From the New York Times:

This September, Fox’s debate — in Florida, with Mr. Romney, Mr. Paul and new names like Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann — attracted almost twice as many viewers: 6.1 million, the highest so far this year. The very first televised Republican debate this spring attracted almost 3.3 million viewers, while the first debate in the spring of 2007 had 1.8 million.

The Times offers a variety of explanations for the higher ratings, including an excited and angry Republican electorate, lots of internet chatter, and higher production values.

These high ratings have led just about every network, including relatively obscure ones like Bloomberg, to want to host their own. Interestingly, the networks do not necessarily make much money from the debate ratings per se, because there are very few ads, but the affiliation with the campaign and the ability to interview candidates is well worth it. Michael Clemente of Fox News is quoted as saying, “It’s a great tentpole . . . you get to showcase your best people.” CNN didn’t quite manage to showcase Anderson Cooper last night, though, when he made no effort to moderate any of the intense bickering between candidates.

Regardless, there is no end in sight. Twelve more Republican debates are scheduled for the next six months — and networks are hoping to schedule more.

Patrick Brennan — Patrick Brennan is a writer and policy analyst based in Washington, D.C. He was Director of Digital Content for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, writing op-eds, policy content, and leading the ...

Most Popular

Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More