Is this sour grapes or insightful analysis? Probably a bit of both, and even Michael Bloomberg subtly admits it in his interview today on ABC’s The View. When Joy Behar asks what he thought of last night’s debate, Bloomberg dryly quips, “The best debate in 2020,” which takes a moment to sink in with the panel.
It was “good theater,” Bloomberg sniffs, but it “didn’t address the issues” but rather focused on the sniping between the candidates. “They’re not really debates,” Bloomberg continues, but just forums for “pre-canned sound bites” intended to generate “pre-scripted” phony controversies.
When one host says she still would have liked to see Bloomberg on stage the night before, he suddenly changes his tune, however:
— The View (@TheView) January 15, 2020
Don’t knock good theater, in other words. In fairness, Bloomberg’s correct about getting the visibility, although he’s best positioned to deal with that issue. He’s spending tens of millions of dollars from his own pocket to blanket the airwaves with his messaging, so visibility isn’t really his problem.
As much as it pains to admit it, he’s also correct about the debates, but it’s hardly earthshaking to say that they’re pointless. Democrats have been having the same debate since June, and no one’s getting any more insight from them than in the first. Perhaps if it got down to two or three candidates on stage rather than 6, 12, or 20, there might be room in this format for something more substantive to emerge. For the moment, though, the only thing that these debates actually produce is “visibility.”
It’s far too late for the DNC to fix its debate format issues this cycle. The RNC, on the other hand, has three years to figure out a solution to the game-show degradation this format creates.