We talked about this on the MOMocrats podcast this morning, where Cynthia and Donna disagreed with my contention that adding more Democratic debates means feeding an already out-of-control media beast while offering Republicans an opportunity to clip out-of-context pieces for their deceptive ad campaigns.

Donna and Cyn disagreed, saying that more debates is more opportunity to delve deeper into policy issues and vet candidates more thoroughly. And, as Donna points out, we have to work with the media we have rather than the media we want, so more debates means more attention.

All valid points. But let’s suppose all of that is true. Is it necessarily true that debates should be staged affairs where candidates are given 60 or 90 seconds to respond before their opponents get their 30-second counterpoint, all sanctioned by the official party machine? Or is it possible to have a “debate” in a different format?

I’m asking the question because just after the podcast I saw this little tidbit from AdAge:

CNN is asking 40 times its normal rate for commercial time in the next Republican debate.

The cable news network is charging as much as $200,000 for a 30-second spot in the prime-time brawl taking place on Sept. 16, according to a media buyer. This is on par with the cost of buying commercial time in some broadcast prime-time series.

Typically, an average prime-time spot on CNN costs about $5,000, buyers said.

It won’t be clear who will be in the top-tier debate until Sept. 10. CNN amended its GOP debate criteria to now include anyone who ranks in the top 10 in polling between Aug. 7 and Sept. 10.

CNN is also asking for $50,000 to $60,000 for a commercial in the debate between lower-ranking candidates that will take place earlier in the day.
A CNN spokeswoman declined to comment on pricing.

Much of the buzz can be attributed to GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, whose polarizing viewpoints, crass comments and unpredictability have made for compelling TV.

So basically what we have on the Republican debate stage is a successor to The Apprentice, where the “winner” of said debate will be determined by who says the most outrageous things at the most outrageous time, while lining the coffers of corporate media. Is that something Democrats can or should even aspire to?

These staged affairs exist to fatten the wallets of corporate media while dumbing down the American public. Even if the Democrats had a serious debate on serious issues, I have my doubts that viewers or networks would actually take them seriously. I’d like to see corporate media power diminish when it comes to elections instead of giving them more resources to do less reporting. All they’re interested in is feeding junk food to the body politic.

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