So far, the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination has focused on exciting issues like the merits of Carly Fiorina’s face, the height of the new wall between the United States and Mexico, and whether the Jews were responsible for the Holocaust.
The Democratic debate scheduled for Tuesday night, meanwhile, is expected focus on issues like climate change, criminal justice reform, and zzzzzzzzzzz…
Major media outlets would like you to know that it will probably be a snooze-fest.
The Washington Post reports that the Republican debates have been “appointment television” featuring lots of personal insults and attacks. Meanwhile, the Democratic debate will focus on “substantive” issues like “how each would pay for his or her higher-education overhauls.” It’s possible, the Post warns, you will be “bored senseless.”
This is because the Democratic candidates have avoided “direct, personal attacks that have been so prominent in the Republican race.” This leaves them, according to the Post, “downright predictable.”
Howard Kurtz, a reporter for Fox News, agrees. Kurtz wrote that he can “hardly wait” for the first Democratic debate. He was being sarcastic.
“I wouldn’t gamble on the Las Vegas event being scintillating television,” writes Kurtz, adding, “If there are any fireworks, they will likely have to come from the main moderators.” He complains that if Hillary Clinton draws any contrasts with Bernie Sanders, she will likely focus on his “proposals.”
The New York Times also has its doubts about Tuesday’s debate, wondering aloud if anyone will tune in:
— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) October 12, 2015
The Times notes that the Democratic candidates have “been far more reluctant to attack one another than their Republican counterparts.” The paper quotes Frank Sesno, a media professor who used to work at CNN, describing the Democratic candidates are “political stars, not rock stars.” Meanwhile, “Donald Trump is a celebrity of a different magnitude entirely, and the rest of the Republican field is a cast of thousands and each one offers a different plot twist.”
It is unclear why, exactly, it matters what the ratings are for a presidential debate or how it rates as entertainment. The purpose of the debate is to help voters select who they’d like to be the next president, not fill out a network’s primetime lineup.
Framing the debate around its ratings and entertainment value is essentially accepting the Trump narrative of success.
Donald Trump: People are going to "fall asleep" watching the Democratic debate pic.twitter.com/veCtSt76Yf
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) October 13, 2015
Trump said that “a person at CNN” told him, “We have to put Donald Trump in this debate. We’re going to die with it.”
Fear not, CNN. Trump announced that — even though it will be “very boring” — he will be covering the debate live on Twitter.