In case there is anyone out there hoping that Donald Trump will “win” Monday night’s debate in the eyes of the media, please abandon those hopes before the pundits start mouthing off. There is a better chance of Mitt Romney somehow getting elected on November 9 than there is of the mainstream media admitting that Trump crushed Hillary Clinton in the first debate from Hofstra University. A much better chance.
Just look at how they covered the candidates’ first non-debate – the Commander In Chief Forum on NBC. The political media didn’t care that Trump clearly outshined Hillary; they wanted to talk about that awful conservative, misogynist creep known as Matt Lauer. How dare he question Hillary about her emails? How dare he hold her to the standards of a man? Why, he should have conducted the interview from his knees, kissing Hillary’s hand between every question!
If Trump rolls over Hillary on Monday, we’ll see much of the same. Suddenly, we’ll learn that not only is Lester Holt a registered Republican…he’s a card-carrying member of the alt-right! Someone from the Washington Post will find a tweet from 2011 when Holt’s brother’s roommate’s cousin used that dreaded white nationalist frog to make a point about immigration. By Wednesday, the heat will get so strong that NBC will be openly thinking about putting Brian Williams back on the Nightly News broadcast. It’s one thing to lie about your supposed brush with danger in the Middle East; it’s quite another to let Donald Trump answer questions on television. That…that we cannot abide.
Of course, that’s probably not going to be necessary. You don’t think Holt was watching the liberal universe tear Lauer to shreds? He’s not about to make that mistake and neither is the network. The debate itself will be an exercise in Trump’s destruction. It wouldn’t be surprising if NBC provided us with real-time fact checks, for the sole purpose of making Trump look like a liar. It will be extremely interesting to note how many lies they let Hillary get away with compared to Trump, if they go this route. Extremely interesting.
Debates don’t often live up to the hype. They seldom represent a significant turning point in a presidential election, no matter how informative and/or entertaining they might be. This year, which has been an exception in so many ways, could challenge those expectations. And the media’s influence, depending on how irresponsibly they wield it next week, could be substantial.
Which way they turn the tide, however, remains to be seen.