Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) criticized the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) primary debate forum on Tuesday, putting forth that is a money-making operation that lacks substance.
“People are getting really turned off by it. They have alternatives and they’re not getting anything of value from the conversation that’s happening in these debates that are really like political reality TV,” Gabbard told host Joe Rogan during an appearance on his podcast. “They are completely set up for conflict and confrontation to drive up ratings so that they can make more money — the corporate media can make more money.”
“You’ve got 60 to 75 seconds to get your point across,” she added. “To talk about, hey here’s my position, here’s what I would do with North Korea, here’s what I would deal with immigration reform in 60 seconds or less.”
The Hawaii congresswoman noted that the steep decline in the number of Americans who were tuning in to watch the debates is evidence of a lack of interest on behalf of the American electorate. Accordingly, the first DNC primary debate in June was the most watched to-date, averaging more than 18 million viewers over the course of the two days. November’s debate, however, which was the most recent, was the least watched of the election cycle, with fewer than seven million viewers tuning in.
“You know, rather than it being this money-driven, ratings-driven venture — which the media is doing across the board, both in these debates and kind of what issues they’re choosing to cover — we should go back to the League of Women Voters who used to actually host presidential forums that would have real questions about real issues that people care about in a way that is not broken up by commercial breaks and advertisements so that the people can make money,” Gabbard said to Rogan.
Gabbard has been an outspoken critic of the DNC’s lack of transparency and arbitrary determination of which polls are deemed eligible for qualification purposes. Her campaign urged the DNC in September to reconsider their criteria after she failed to qualify and further slammed the organization for hindering conversations “between future leaders of this country.”
While the DNC declined to reconsider their benchmarks, Gabbard ultimately received an invitation for the following debates. However, she has still not met the threshold to qualify for December’s debate.
In order to nab a podium on the upcoming Los Angeles debate stage, presidential hopefuls must raise campaign donations from no fewer than 200,000 individual donors. In addition, they must also receive at least 4% of the vote in four general DNC-approved polls or 6% in two early state polls — such as those in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina.
Gabbard needs either one more qualifying nationwide poll or one more qualifying early state poll to meet the polling threshold, and she also needs fewer than 1,000 new donors, according to her social media account.
As of publication, Gabbard sits at just under 2% cumulative support among Democratic primary voters, according to the RealClear Politics national polling average.