Updated with Hillary Clinton’s response to Trump: Donald Trump handed CNN a ratings gift very early this morning – and another reason to demand that CNN pay him – when he announced he will live tweet the network’s Democratic debate tonight.
News of the GOP front-runner’s plans had pundits adjusting upwards their ratings forecasts for tonight’s debate. Yesterday conventional wisdom had the debate clocking in at 8-million-ish, mirroring Dem debates’ best numbers in the last presidential election cycle. This morning, the 12-15M-ish forecast yesterday by one or two media navel lint gazers, and dismissed by the rest of them as cock-eyed optimism, doesn’t sound as far fetched, though no one has gone so far as to suggest this debate will come within spitting distance of the record 23 and 24M garnered by CNN and Fox News Channel’s GOP debates this election cycle. Trump may be tweeting tonight’s debate, but he won’t be on stage.
“It will be interesting to see if the media picks up on any of it,” CNN’s media reporter Dylan Byers said on air this morning of Trump’s tweets – as if that was an actual question.
At least one of tonight’s debate participants has welcomed tonight’s Trump-tweeting:
In addition to Trump, NBC had pitched in to the debate ratings goosing effort, a few weeks back, when Hillary Clinton won TV with a march across NBC’s networks. After warming up with appearances on NBC News’ Meet The Press and launch of MSNBC’s MTP Daily, Clinton skipped across the NBC landscape, including a starring role in the 41st season premiere of Saturday Night Live, playing Val the bartender. Clinton got rave reviews for Val’s duet of Bill Withers tune “Lean on Me” with SNL regular Kate McKinnon, who played candidate Hillary Clinton. In the SNL season starter, Actual Hillary Clinton also introduced Miley Cyrus’ musical performance as part of Clinton’s campaign to re-brand herself as fun and spontaneous and authentic.
Clinton’s tour of NBC also included a visit to Al Sharpton’s MSNBC show Politics Nation in its new Sunday timeslot, and a triumphant pancake-flipping town hall staged by NBC News’s Today show. The SNL appearance alone brought her about 6.5 million viewers who’d watched the broadcast that same night. And, early results in on her Today show town hall indicated at least 5M had tuned in to watch it live.
The concentrated Clinton spray across NBC raised some eyebrows, this being the network that in summer of 2013 had announced it was developing a Hillary Clinton biopic miniseries, only to scrap the project after the RNC said “I don’t think so” in so many words, though the network cited other reasons in scrapping the project. NBC has insisted Clinton’s recent lap around NBC’s platforms was coincidental and not coordinated by its centralized booking department.
In the past 24 hours, a Clinton aid told CNN the candidates want to use the debate to “cut through politics,” which is political gibberish for “authenticity.” And, former longtime Clinton aid Patti Solis Doyle told CNN that tonight Clinton “needs to show her personal side. I’d like to see her have some light moments. I’d be delighted if I saw a cameo by Val the Bartender.”
Trump would too.