Monday Reads: Pre Debate warm-up jitters


Good Afternoon!

Take my advice for tonight’s debate. Don’t watch the pundits or you’ll need some form of tranquilizer.  Have I mentioned how horrible Andrea Mitchell is lately?

So, the debate is tonight and of course, we’ll be live blogging the drama.  I am assuming there will be drama.  I’m still trying to figure out if there will be blood.  Several little bits about the particulars first before we get on with the big build up to the event.

Bloomberg TV will be running a fact check of the debate on its screen tonight.  I find that very interesting.  How many debates have ever needed real time fact check before?

Bloomberg TV will conduct on-screen fact checks of statements made by both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during Monday night’s debate, POLITICO has confirmed.

The channel’s decision to conduct an on-screen fact-check sets Bloomberg apart from the other major TV networks, none of whom have committed to doing on-screen fact checks during the debate. Most will leave the fact-checking to segments in the post-debate analysis coverage.

Clinton’s supporters have called for aggressive fact-checking during Monday’s debate, saying that members of the media have failed to adequately fact-check and correct falsehoods from her Republican rival. NBC’s Matt Lauer was recently criticized for not correcting several false statements from Trump during a presidential forum on the network.

Spokespeople for the networks told POLITICO that on-screen fact checks would be hard to execute in real-time, which is why they were opting out. That leaves the real-time fact-checking up to NBC’s Lester Holt, the debate moderator, or Clinton herself.

The debate will be on at 9 pm Eastern. Lester Holt of NBC News will be the moderator.  The format will be somewhat informal. Here are the details via Heavy.first-date-nerves

The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern. It will be televised on all major broadcast and cable news networks.

The debate is being held on the anniversary of the very first televised presidential debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy in 1960. Here’s a look at the broadcast information:

DATE: Monday, September 26, 2016

AIR TIME: The debate will begin at 9 p.m. Eastern. It’s scheduled to end at 10:30 p.m. Eastern.

TV CHANNEL: This debate will be broadcast live on all the major networks and leading cable sites, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, CNBC, Fox, Fox News, MSNBC, and PBS NewsHour and Univision.

To find out what channel the station you want to watch is on for you, click here to go to TV Guide’s listings. Then change the “Provider” (right under TV Listings) to your local provider. You’ll be able to scroll down to see what channel the station you’re interested in is on for you.

LOCATION: Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York

MODERATOR: NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt.

12631562_10207197700835066_2340311403332702159_nMy guess is that the debate will either be very uninteresting or very volatile.  I can’t see much room for moderation in anything with Donald Trump participating. He’s the very definition of ASSymmetric political warfare. Jay Rosen–professor of journalism and media critic–believes that asymmetry between the parties right now has caused issues for the media. What do you do when one party has gone completely off the rails explicitly supporting policy that wouldn’t pass constitutional muster, is openly xenophobic, racist, and sexist, plus delegitimatizes private choices concerning love and religion?

Over that stretch I have tried to develop my own pressthink in reply to “theirs,” meaning the ideas most campaign journalists have about their work, and the explanations they tend to give when criticized for it. I tried to summarize the first 20 years of this tension in my 2011 lecture: Why Political Coverage is Broken. What I said there is still basic to how I do my criticism, but Trump’s spectacular intervention has raised the stakes and altered the terms of the debate.

Trump is not a normal candidate and can’t be covered like one. Journalists have finally accepted that. Just the other day Dean Baquet, editor of the New York Times, said this about Trump

He’s been hugely challenging. I don’t think we’ve ever had somebody who in my time as a journalist so openly lies, and that was a word that we struggled to actually utter. We’re used to, I think as journalists, we’re used to philosophical debates, like one party thinks we should go to war on Iraq, makes its case—exaggerates its case, we now know. But there are warring philosophies. I’ve never quite seen anything like [Trump], and I think it’s a real challenge for us.

Elections were about warring philosophies. Journalists sat in the press box and brought you the action. Baquet admits: this organizing image no longer organizes much. But even his phrase “hugely challenging” understates it, I think. Here are the major propositions I have been using to understand this unique and perilous moment.

1. Political journalism rests on a picture of politics that journalists and politicos share.

As practiced by the “mainstream media” (the professionals who work at NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, NPR, the AP, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Reuters, Bloomberg, Politico, Time magazine) political journalism is constructed — it rests entirely — on a mental picture of the American system in which the two major parties are similar actors with, as Baquet put it, “warring philosophies.”

Elections are the big contests that distribute power between them. The day-to-day of politics is a series of minor battles for tactical advantage. The press is part of this picture because it distributes attention, but — in this view of things — it doesn’t participate in politics itself. It reports on battles large and small, questions the power holders, tries to reveal machinations going on behind the scenes and generates public interest in the drama of politics. But it is unaligned with the major players and unaffected by the outcome of the contests it chronicles.

To report successfully on such a system you need sources who trust you inside both parties. You need people in both parties who will return your calls and have drinks with you at the Des Moines Marriott. The simplest way to guarantee that is to look at politics in the same way that people in the party establishments do. The political pros who staff the committees and run the campaigns and consult with the big players are the closest readers of political journalism and closest in outlook to the journalists who consider reporting on politics their profession.

I called this a mental picture, but it’s more than that. It’s a stable framework within which work can be done, coverage can be planned, knowledge can be refined, reputation can be won, careers can be built. The image of two similar parties with warring philosophies that compete for tactical advantage also positions the mainstream press in a comfortable way: between partisan players as chronicler, questioner and referee. Among those most comfortable with that position: media owners and managers hoping to alienate as few people as possible.

In other words: powerful forces keep the mental picture in place.

2. Asymmetry between the parties fries the circuits of the mainstream press.

Now imagine what happens when over time the base of one party, far more than the base of the other, begins to treat the press as a hostile actor, and its own establishment as part of the rot; when it not only opposes but denies the legitimacy — and loyalty to the state — of the other side’s leader; when it prefers conspiracy theory to party-friendly narratives that at least cope with verified fact; when it is scornful of the reality that in a divided system you never get everything you want.

This is the thesis that Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein developed in their 2012 book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks. They are think tank scholars with PhDs and Washington insiders who were frequently called on by journalists to explain trends and furnish quotes. They had the same incentives as journalists to stay on conversant terms with politicos in both parties. Mann and Ornstein came to the conclusion that something had changed in the Republican Party. Their summary of it:

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

How will Lester Holt handle the short-finger vulgarian?  How will Hillary respond to the man who has used sexism, meanness, and lies to characterize her entire life and accomplishments?    Lester Holt is probably not what is needed to get to the crux of this mean campaign season.  John Oliver and his entertainment form of news is probably a better source of analysis and outrage.

Political scandals, whether focused on Hillary Clinton’s email use or Donald Trump’s shady business dealings, have emerged as one of the most popular talking points of the 2016 presidential election. But as John Oliver explained on the latest“Last Week Tonight,” when you break down all the alleged scandals plaguing both candidates, it’s overwhelmingly clear that there is no contest: Trump is “unethically compromised to an almost unprecedented degree.”

“This campaign has been dominated by scandals, but it is dangerous to think that there is an equal number on both sides,” Oliver said. “You can be irritated by some of Hillary’s—that is understandable—but you should then be fucking outraged by Trump’s.”

Fucking outraged indeed.

So, what do “they” expect?  Here’s a bit from ABC.

–ANALYSIS — ABC’s RICK KLEIN: What if he apologizes? What if he behaves himself? What if he drops “Crooked Hillary” for “Madam Secretary”? What if – stay with us here – he doesn’t stretch the truth? Forget the no-holds-barred attacks Donald Trump has proven himself capable of. Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare might be humble Trump, since that would flip storylines enough to potentially dominate the takeaways regardless of what else happens at Hofstra. Clinton’s camp is pressuring Lester Holt to do the fact-checking the candidate doesn’t want to do by herself. But she may be in the position of wanting and needing to draw Trump out – to bait him into a discussion of President Obama’s birth status, for instance, or a real policy discussion on Iraq or Afghanistan or ISIS. Clinton-as-aggressor would surely be unexpected. It also may be helpful in a race where she continues to struggle to lock down her base. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Trump getting a larger share of Republicans and of Romney voters than Clinton is of Democrats and Obama voters. Clinton isn’t known for smackdowns. But it may not hurt for her to show some fight.

downloadJames Hohmann from WAPO says Trump has won the expectations game already.

— Reviewing the coverage ahead of Trump’s 9 p.m. showdown with Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University makes it sound like all the GOP nominee really needs to do is not talk about how well-endowed he is…

“I think that Trump is buoyed by the very low expectations. This is a guy who’s never debated one-on-one … So if he does passably, we’ll all say he won,” a Politico reporter said last week. The headline of a lead story on Politico this morning, citing anonymous “insiders,” declares that “The heat is on Hillary.”

A lot of people are going to look at Donald Trump and think, ‘Hey, if he can even get out a good sentence and show off his experience, then he’s doing well,’” New York Times correspondent Yamiche Alcindor said on “Morning Joe” last week, addressing the Clinton campaign’s complaints that she’s being subjected to a double standard.

“Clinton has the much tougher task tonight,” NPR declares in its curtain-raiser this morning.“She has the burden of high expectations. The former senator and secretary of state, who’s now been through two presidential campaigns, is an experienced debater who knows policy inside and out. But her job is very hard — Clinton has to convince voters who don’t want to vote for Trump but haven’t warmed up to her that she is likeable, honest and trustworthy. And she has to press her case that Trump is unqualified to be president without being overly aggressive or ‘harsh.’”

“I do think that the stakes are much higher in this debate and all the debates for Hillary Clinton,” CNN’s Dana Bash said on the air recently. “Because she is a seasoned politician. She is a seasoned debater. Yes, we saw Donald Trump in the primaries debate for the first time, but he is a first-time politician. So for lots of reasons—maybe it’s not fair, but it’s the way it is—the onus is on her.

The liberal group Media Matters has rounded up several other examples in this vein. The editor in chief of The Hill, Bob Cusack, also said on Fox News earlier this month that the bar for Clinton is “higher” than for Trump. “So there is an opportunity for Trump—if he can do the prep work and land some zingers—he could really make up some ground in the battleground states,” Cusack said.

As the Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel notes, tongue in cheek, “Debate Bar So Low For Donald Trump That If He Doesn’t Vomit, He’s Exceeded Expectations.”

— This tenor of coverage has influenced public perceptions about the debate. Our new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows the race is within the margin of error nationally. Likely voters split 46 percent for Clinton and 44 percent for Trump. Among registered voters, Clinton and Trump are tied at 41 percent. The poll finds that eight in 10 voters plan to watch tonight’s debate, prompting some to estimate that upwards of 100 million could tune in. Overall, no matter who they’re supporting, 44 percent expect Clinton to win versus 34 percent who expect Trump to come out ahead. Many who say they’ll watch have already made up their minds. While about one in five registered voters say the debate could change their minds, only 6 percent said there is a good chance of that occurring.

So, anyway, the press is still trying to buck up Trump–imho–to make this a horse race.  It includes coverage of the upticks or down ticks  in the latest polls from Colorado and Pennsylvania.  Again, you can’t seperate random variance from trend in one data point so paying attention to any one poll without knowing  a lot of the past and the details is quite delusional.stress_and_anxiety_funny

Just one point separates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in two states that are critical to both candidates’ chances of becoming president, according to new CNN/ORC polls in Pennsylvania and Colorado.

In Colorado, likely voters break 42% for Trump, 41% for Clinton, 13% for Libertarian Gary Johnson and 3% for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Pennsylvania’s likely voters split 45% for Clinton, 44% for Trump, 6% for Johnson and 3% for Stein. Those divides are well within each poll’s 3.5-point margin of sampling error.

Sam Wang–a great neuroscientist and poll analyst–suggests we ignore the expectations game as well as focusing too much on an individual poll.  He says its more important to watch the polls AFTER the debate.

Polls are likely to move after the debate. It is the moment when voters get to make a direct, side-by-side comparison of the two candidates. This may also be the last time for any significant shift in the race.

Both before and after the debate, pundits will emit opinions about “expectations.” This commentary does not have predictive value. It would be better if they kept their focus on policy substance or factchecking.

Here are three reasons why you should basically ignore the onslaught of horserace punditry that is about to rain down.

It’s a tight race. Clinton’s the favorite but close enough that Trump would probably pull ahead if he “wins” debate. 

Above is a mild example of what you can expect in the coming 24 hours. This particular statement is a bit circular: of course Trump will probably be perceived as “winning” if his numbers improve. However, there’s a bigger problem: the premise of “meeting expectations” itself carries no predictive value.

Trump could take the lead, but it would go against what we know so far. I would characterize the race as being very close, but not as uncertain as you might think. Why? The unappreciated story of 2016 is the amazing stability of public opinion. As measured by national polls, 2016 marks the most stable Presidential race in >60 years of modern polling. At the level of state-poll-based analysis, the stability is even greater. This basic fact should inform all analysis.

Wang provides 3 reasons and explanations. I’ll just list the points here and let you go read the explanations.636066015689702126754581096_college-tips-article

1. What commentators think about “exceeding expectations” is an anti-indicator.

2. If polls move after the debate, the reasons were baked in a long time ago

3. Polarization has made it difficult for opinion to move much.

I think his bottom line is most interesting here.

The groups that may choose up sides are self-described undecideds (4%), Gary Johnson supporters (8%), and Jill Stein supporters (3%). Undecideds andJohnson supporters are likely to split evenly between Clinton and Trump, while Stein supporters should break heavily toward Clinton. Tomorrow is a chance for them to get on the bus.

I guess that probably means more outreach to millennials is necessary.  Here’s the link to RCP and the latest poll by poll result.

So, hopefully, we will see you tonight as we nail bite our way through this.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?




47 Comments on “Monday Reads: Pre Debate warm-up jitters”

  1. dakinikat says:

    The lie of white “economic insecurity”: Race, class and the rise of Donald Trump
    The media loves to promote the lie that the white working class supports Trump and the GOP for economic reasons

    • Mary Brown says:

      So the Hoopla home page for my public library’s audiobooks had a banner link for that very article, and I thought – wow, that Alaska book by John Green sounds really interesting, I think I’ll check it out. Ironically, they don’t carry it.

  2. dakinikat says:

    Eighteen academic studies, legal rulings, and media investigations shed light on the issue roiling America.

  3. dakinikat says:

    High Hitler: how Nazi drug abuse steered the course of history
    German writer Norman Ohler’s astonishing account of methamphetamine addiction in the Third Reich changes what we know about the second world war

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Thanks for a great post, Dak.

    I have zero expectations for Lester Holt. As far as I can tell, Hillary is on her own and will have to fight Trump, the moderator, and the media. Most pundits this morning are either predicting a Trump win or suggesting that Clinton has very little chance against him.

    As for that idiotic “analysis” by Rick Klein: there is no humble Trump, and if Hillary acts at all aggressive, most of the media will even more aggressively shame her.

    Thank goodness for Sam Wang!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Oh, and if Lester Holt doesn’t ask about abortion, he needs be to forced to explain why.

    • dakinikat says:

      I know … the Rick Klein comments were mind bending. I saw a bit of Andrea this morning before work and all she can do is obsess on why Hillary is so bad at answering Email questions. The press is a hot mess.

      • Fannie says:

        I swear the media acts like they own this election, and not we the people. I’ve never seen such shit thrown in our faces. So they send the press down to interview Walmart Moms, and they interview women who say, Trump and Hillary are one in the same. I am choking, I mean choking on those words.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        And Andrea pontificating on Hillary’s ability to answer the “email” question is RICH coming from a woman that can’t get out a complete sentence without multiple pauses and she’s reading a prompter. No matter how Hillary answers it’s not good enough. It’s either too long of an answer, or too short of an answer. Fuck Andrea Mitchell and UpChuck Todd. They’ve both worked against Hillary for over a year and I’m not interested in any observation they have. Put your game face on and GET MAD.

  6. William says:

    Among the many misdirections and distortions that the media perpetuates, this focus on the debate as an optics event, is another pernicious one. In a reasonable world, Hillary would win the debate, if for no other reason than that her policies are a million times better than Trump’s. The current media does everything it can to distract the viewers from what is actually at stake in terms of agenda and policies, and toward a five-year-old’s mentality. Gee, if Trump is polite, then he wins! It doesn’t matter than he was polite about a bunch of insane and destructive policies, it just how he presents them. This is just so awful, and it is the media’s stock in trade.

    I firmly believe that Hillary needs to show the viewers just how dangerous Trump enacting his agenda would be to them and the world. It’s party the voters’ fault, of course; they continually are duped into thinking that the election is just about personalities, or whom they like. Then when the reality hits, and the election media extravaganza is over, they spend four years recriminating. The media, like carnival barkers who conned the public, rake in tlhe profits, and leave town. This absolutely idiotic focus on Trump’s demeanor, is a media concocted talent-show perspective, which seduces and misleads the viewers into thinking that this is actually the crucial thing, not the actual things being said. No wonder our democracy is in peril.

  7. Sweet Sue says:

    Great post, Dak.

    • Fannie says:

      Went for long walk, got some chocolate for tonight, and according to news article I ought to get some drinks to go with. Seems like more than half the country is hitting the liquor store, and probably hitting the pipe too.

      • bostonboomer says:

        LOL! I wouldn’t be surprised. I don’t drink, but I might make some popcorn.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I’m going to eat Pasta, my comfort food, and drink like a tanker tonight. No matter what Trump says or does it won’t change the truth of who and what he is. GET YOUR GAME FACES ON AND GET FUCKING MAD!!!

        • Fannie says:

          Wait, wait, wait, Hillary Clinton is going to do butterfly punch on Trump, and sting his friend the Russian Tanker right in his face, and neither one of them will ever be the same. She been on every corner of the globe, and tonight, she gets the ruby rose.

    • dakinikat says:

      Thx! The media is making this difficult and I keep strict Windsor rules about cocktails.

  8. Jslat says:

    Will the debate be on C-SPAN? I’m hoping for a pundit-free zone.

  9. littleisis says:

    I’m so nervous about tonight I could throw up 😭😭😭

    • ANonOMouse says:

      I’m not nervous, I’m angry. The media has brought us to this place and time by refusing to vet Donald Trump or call out his lies. They brought us to this place by playing up Benghazi, Emails, The DNC bullshit and The Clinton Foundation, all the while knowing there was no there, there. Should Trump come out on top, I will blame the Media for it’s passivity in the face of what is the worst threat to Democracy since WWII. No reason to be nervous, get your game face on and BE FUCKING MAD!!!

    • janicen says:

      Me too. I’m eating unsalted nuts like I haven’t eaten in five years.

  10. ANonOMouse says:

    “Have I mentioned how horrible Andrea Mitchell is lately?”

    She’s been horrible throughout the process. This isn’t a new Andrea Mitchell, this is the same Andrea Mitchell that spent most of the primary process “bitch” slapping at Hillary. I don’t know if it’s her need to compensate because she doesn’t want to seem to favor the WOMAN, of if she has HDS, whichever it’s sickening.

  11. ANonOMouse says:

    And I hope MSNBC is proud of themselves by playing up the “bad Hillary” meme during the Primary and how their daytime programming has done the false equivalency narrative since she won the nomination. Trump may have been a ratings bonanza for them but as soon as this process is over their ratings will tank AGAIN! Good riddance!!!

  12. ANonOMouse says:

    I’m Mouse and I approved this message.

  13. Fannie says:

    Here’s another favorite.

  14. William says:

    I am not worried about how Hillary does, she is a great debater, even hough the media will not give her credit for it. I’ve seen her in about 25 debates, and she is always poised, knowledgeable, and in command of facts. She is about the best debater I have ever seen in the political arena, with Bill Clinton of course being right up there. She’s better than just about all the rest of the Democratic candidates, I have ever seen, in primaries and general elections. The only concerns I have are with the media. Trump says some insulting thing, and then the media plays it a thousand times, but trying to spin that HIllary didn’t handle it well. Trump recites some line Ailes gave him, akin to “There you go again,” which the media decides is brilliant. And what is probably inevitable, the media “grades: the debate on body language, smiles, laughs, good humor, all the things that shoudn’t matter; and they talk all about the back and forth, devoid of the content. In other words, it’s the post-debate stuff that I am most nervous about.

  15. Mary Brown says:

    OMG he’s just shouting her down and talking over her. Where’s the Bloomberg fact checking?

  16. Mary Brown says:

    I keep hoping he’ll self-destruct like John Belushi on SNL.