CNN president Jeff Zucker has long spoken about his love of sports, which is why he's incorporated sports-style punditry into CNN's political analysis. CNN's emphasis on sports-style clashes seeped its way into last night's debate, where CNN touted "a fight for the heart of the party" in its opening intro. The problem, says Megan Garber, is that the melodrama became more important than the substance of the debate. "Debates are competitions, yes," says Garber. "They are spectacles, certainly. And the Democrats have noteworthy differences in their policy positions and their political orientations. But there is a revealing absurdity to CNN’s repeated attempts to reduce a 10-person event to a series of highly targeted duels. The moderators might have asked the candidates about health care, and immigration, and gun safety, and racial inequality, and climate change, but mostly they asked the candidates about one another. The result was cyclical, and cynical: Here were matters of life and death, framed as fodder for manufactured melees. As the debate wore on, candidates’ individual discussions of policy proposals were often cut short ('Your time is up!' was a common refrain among the moderators); petty squabbles, however, proved less beholden to the rigid rules of the clock."
TOPICS: CNN, Don Lemon, Jeff Zucker, John Delaney, 2020 Presidential Election, Cable News, Ratings, Trump Presidency