News and Analysis

Spin Cycle: If The Networks Don’t Cover It, It Isn’t Happening … Right?
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks while meeting with the Joint Chiefs and Combatant Commanders in the Cabinet Room of the White House May 15, 2024 in Washington, DC. Biden will host a dinner later this evening for the same group. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images

For those who don’t spend their Sunday mornings glued to the television — and their Sunday afternoons attempting to dig through a week’s worth of network and cable news media spin — The Daily Wire has compiled a short summary of what you may have missed.

Sunday’s media spin was as much about what wasn’t making headlines as what was — specifically, the tentatively scheduled debates between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

President Biden did make headlines last Monday when he posted a 15-second video — a video that was marked by at least five obvious jump-cuts and featured Biden uttering the Dirty Harry catch-phrase “make my day” — throwing down the gauntlet and all but demanding that Trump debate him. Of course, Biden added a series of demands that he likely believed would tip the scales in his favor, from limiting the possible networks and moderators to eliminating the live audience and having the candidates’ mics cut when their time expired.

Trump, who has repeatedly called on Biden to debate him since before the Super Tuesday states had even voted in the primaries, immediately accepted despite the added requirements. And within hours, the two had tentatively scheduled two debates — one hosted by CNN in June and another hosted by ABC in September — and CNN anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash had been named as the moderators for the first.

But despite their being what most would say was a relatively newsworthy development, the upcoming debates got almost no play on any of the Sunday political shows.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” host Margaret Brennan delivered interviews with former Defense Secretary (under then-President Barack Obama) Robert Gates, Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) and Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and an update on the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

On CNN, “State of the Union” anchor Jake Tapper took a moment to remember his late CNN colleague, conservative commentator Alice Stewart, who had passed away suddenly. He also interviewed Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) and Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-TX) about a House hearing that went sideways, and spoke with former HUD Secretary Ben Carson. The only mention of any debate was Carson’s insistence that, if chosen to be Trump’s running mate, he would be happy to debate Vice President Kamala Harris.

“Meet the Press” on NBC delivered similar fare. Nothing debate-related, but host Kristen Welker did find time to ask Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) several times whether he would accept the results of the 2024 election “no matter who wins.” She also spoke with Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps — about what the U.S. Olympic Committee could do better in terms of making sure that the athletes came first — and got an update on the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge from Governor Wes Moore (D-MD).

On “Fox News Sunday,” anchor Shannon Bream addressed the campus protests that impacted commencement ceremonies as well as President Biden’s commencement address at Morehouse College. She also gave updates on the war between Israel and the terror group Hamas, the war between Russia and Ukraine, and President Trump’s ongoing hush-money trial in Manhattan.

Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also avoided debate talk — spending most of her time on MSNBC’s “Inside with Jen Psaki” talking about Trump’s trial — but she did take a moment to attack Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito over the New York Times story accusing him of hanging a “Stop the Steal” flag in front of his Alexandria home just days after January 6th, 2021.

It was only on ABC’s “This Week” that anyone really talked about the possibility that Trump and Biden could debate — and the way that conversation played out might be the reason the other networks were so keen to avoid the topic altogether.

New York Times White House correspondent David Sanger said he thought that at least some of Biden’s conditions might make for a more coherent debate, arguing that they could bring American “back to the Nixon-Kennedy era where there was actual real discussion.”

But then ABC News contributor Sarah Isgur pointed out how at least one of Biden’s demands could backfire and help former President Trump — even if he wasn’t happy about it in the moment.

“I think, believe it or not, this probably actually helps Donald Trump,” she said. “He may not like his mic cut off. But to force him into a more disciplined debate environment will probably help him because it will empower the moderators, it’ll make it a watchable debate. Part of what happened in 2020 is the debates were unwatchable. The candidates kept talking over each other, I had no idea what they were trying to talk about, and so — then the debate didn’t matter at all. There’s actually a chance, if the mics get cut off and we actually hear what they say, the moderators are in charge, this debate could matter.”

Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy raised a question earlier in the week that could be another reason the networks were loathe to bring up the debates — he wondered whether Biden was suddenly pushing for debates to distract from yet another series of bad poll numbers.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Spin Cycle: If The Networks Don’t Cover It, It Isn’t Happening … Right?