Will party fealty remain stronger than personal survival for Democratic candidates?
Bernie Sanders seems poised to once again exact a heavy influence on the Democrat election field this coming election. The Democratic-socialist has just turned heads with his appearance on a Fox News town hall this week and, as a result, he is turning opinions — within his own party. The ratings are in for his appearance on Monday and suddenly the news outlet Dems love to hate has them reaching out to curry some attention.
The Democratic party leaders have made no attempt hiding they have a disdain for Fox News. By all appearances the party intends to move into the 2020 election cycle without any regard for the network. But there is a dawning coming over the field of hopefuls that they may need to buck the intentions of the DNC in order to have any traction in the coming campaign cycle.
There is a revealing development taking place in the rating skirmish between the major news networks. To call it a ratings “war” is not close to accurate, considering the dominance of Fox News for years. But of late the gulf between Fox and the others has become more obvious with the realm of the presidential candidates. Fox News is seen as the enemy by many on the Democrat side of things (as well as many in the news industry). The DNC has even gone so far as to declare that Fox will be prevented from hosting any of the democratic debates. Yet now a certain dawning is coming over some of the candidates themselves.
The news nets have been struggling. In the wake of the release of the Mueller report MSNBC, and especially CNN, saw a precipitous drop in viewers. During this time CNN has been hosting a series of town halls for each of the Democratic Party candidates. As I mentioned last week CNN has not had impressive numbers for its various hosted events, averaging about 900,000 viewers. They tried to massage these figures, stating there is varying interest based upon the individual candidates. Their highest rated town hall so far was that for Kamala Harris, with 1.9m viewers, but there is a reality CNN cannot blame on the lack of charisma of a candidate.
Over at Fox they held a town hall for the independent candidate, Howard Schultz. As lightly regarded and relatively unknown as he is, that Schultz appearance garnered 1.8 million viewers on Fox, nearly the same as Harris’ appearance on CNN. That total was greater than any of the other town halls held on CNN. Then on Monday Bernie Sanders held his own town hall, moderated by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. The ratings for that appearance are in, and Sanders managed to attract an audience of over 2.5 million. He is also attracting interest now from some of the candidates.
While the party leadership has declared that Fox is network non grata the candidates themselves realize something vital; they need that audience. When placed on the political spectrum Bernie Sanders and Fox News may be far enough apart as to be out of sight of each other. Yet there was Bernie Monday evening, drawing an audience more than 25% bigger than Kamala Harris managed at CNN. Notable here also, the Harris appearance was featured in prime time, while Bernie’s town hall was taking place in the 6:30-7:30 slot.
As a result of Bernie’s windfall a number of Democratic hopefuls have stated now they are in talks to appear on Fox with their own forum. Pete Buttigieg, Eric Swalwell, and Julian Castro have said they are currently in talks with the network for their own forum. It becomes amusing that as the party authority has made the bold announcement that Fox is a toxic environment the party players are at the same time clamoring to appear on the accursed outlet.
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