As many Democrats probably know by now, the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) debate schedule for this year’s primary race was just…awful. In fact, most of the candidates, the ones whose names don’t happen to be Hillary Clinton, have spoken out against how bad it is at some point or other.
With only six debates scheduled on weekends, like last night’s debate on the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, following two NFL playoff games, you would think the DNC would have some serious explaining to do. It bears reminding, of course, that the DNC scheduled 26 debates in a wide variety of media platforms during the 2007-08 Democratic Primaries, which saw the rise of President Barack Obama.
But DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, in an interview with John Iadarola of The Young Turks, didn’t seem to see anything wrong with the schedule at all. In fact, in another statement that is making headlines at the moment, Shultz told CNN’s “Reliable Sources” that the scheduling was actually intended “to maximize the opportunity for voters to see our candidates“.
In other words, Shultz felt that scheduling fewer debates would give voters more time to “see” the candidates in other mediums, rather than solely on a TV screen. Unfortunately for Schwartz, however, television remains an important medium through which campaigns make themselves known to the general public, one that can not be neglected no matter how much they look down on it.
The interview with Iadorola can be viewed here:
While the ratings for many of the debates have, in fact, broken viewership records for Democratic primaries, as Schultz was quick to note in the interview posted above, the argument comes across more as an excuse than an acknowledgement that maybe the DNC could’ve done a better job and used the ratings to barter with the networks into scheduling more of them, as Iadorola pointed out in the framing of one of his questions.
As Senator Bernie Sanders noted earlier in December, while voicing his opinion on the debate schedule:
At a time when so many people in our country are giving up on the political process and the turnout is so low, when public consciousness about government is not high, I would like to see us be debating all over this country...So I believe the more debates, the better.
It is hapless, and I would argue undemocratic, that the DNC chairwoman would not follow up on the Senator’s advice, at a time when voters are becoming more and more disengaged with the political process in the United States.