The Media’s All Over the Lot on the Debate: Fox Ratings, Trump, and ‘X’

News & Politics

Media reviews of Wednesday’s GOP presidential debate are in, and they are mixed about the debate itself. 

At the left-wing Washington Post this was the headline: 

Ratings for first Republican debate of 2024 couldn’t compare with 2016 

Okay, but Donald Trump was on stage at the first debate of 2016. Over at the conservative Washington Examiner there was a different take: 

Republican debate: Debate pulls higher ratings for Fox News

The Examiner took the approach of comparing the Wednesday debate ratings to the previous Wednesday Fox ratings when there was no debate.

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Over at CNN, ardent despisers of Trump, the network took the moment to praise the other GOP contenders sideways:  

Fox News GOP debate averages 12.8 million viewers without Trump, indicating strong interest in rest of the Republican field

Meanwhile the conservative beacon that is The Washington Times took a different tack of sorts, focusing on former President Trump’s interview with Tucker Carlson on the X (Twitter) site:  

Trump boasts his Tucker interview trounced GOP debate

Trump succeeded in avoiding all the incoming fire at the first debate, while dragging viewers away from the other candidates.

Taken all together, the media coverage is all over the lot.  Which, in fact, says something about the state of the GOP race in the media. History records that when there is an overwhelming verdict from a debate or an election, the media, left or right, is quick to react. Celebrating for the victors, complaining for the losers.

And, of course, there is the curious fact that the more legal troubles Trump has, the more his poll numbers go up.  It is safe to say that there are Americans aplenty who see the arrest and charging of Trump as a serious assault on the Constitution and their own freedoms. The media become angry when Trump’s challengers join Trump in decrying Democrats weaponizing the legal system in a blatant campaign to get Biden re-elected. They want the challengers to join them in cheering on the indictments.

But it’s August of 2023. A full year-plus from the 2024 election. Presidential elections no matter who is involved or in which election cycle they appear are challenging, to say the least. It is far more challenging in this year of mixing primary dates with court dates. 

There is time for all of the current media scenarios to change. The television coverage of a campaign should be open and educating to voters as to what is happening, why and who is involved.

And right now, after Debate #1, the media coverage is cloudy. With a series of competing claims making the media noise.

The next GOP debate is booked for September 27 — on Fox Business at the Reagan Presidential Library.

Will former President Trump participate – or not? If not, will there be another Trump alternative plan as there was this last time with Tucker Carlson? If he doesn’t, will Fox attempt to exclude his advocates from the “spin room” after the debate again?

Will all the participants of the first debate be able to return to the stage for Debate Number 2? Will the Republican National Committee allow candidates Larry Elder and Perry Johnson to participate, after both were told by the RNC they had not meant the participation requirements for Debate Number 1? Or will candidates who made the stage of the first debate not measure up for the second? 

As with the just held first debate, anything could happen. And the media coverage of that debate will, as with the coverage from this past week, reflect the politics of the moment. And to say the least, there is no media consensus.

So stay tuned.

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