Media figures praise audience-free debate format
No cheers. No boos.
After Sunday’s Democratic debate between Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden went audience-free due to coronavirus concerns, many members of the media praised the format.
“To all those commenting that a debate without an audience is an improvement, I agree,” tweeted former CBS News host Dan Rather. “Who knew that substance over histrionics is preferable? Maybe that could be more generally extended to campaign coverage and cable news talking heads, including my own efforts.”
To all those commenting that a debate without an audience is an improvement, I agree. Who knew that substance over histrionics is preferable? Maybe that could be more generally extended to campaign coverage and cable news talking heads, including my own efforts.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) March 16, 2020
Many journalists said the format eliminated distractions and called for more debates without a live audience. The venue and setup were changed for Sunday’s debate following official recommendations for smaller public gatherings to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Previous Democratic debates were punctuated by both boos and cheers that at times shaped viewers’ perceptions of the events.
This is serious, substantive, informative – and interesting. Is there a need to ever have an audience for a debate again?
— Joel Siegel (@joelmsiegel) March 16, 2020
This debate with no audience is the best yet. The 2 candidates are respectful of each other and focused. The moderators are letting them talk. It feels important. More of this please.
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) March 16, 2020
It really is a remarkable thing, though, to see these two candidates standing 6 feet apart, looking directly at each other as they debate policy — and going long, without much interruption from the moderators or an audience. Let’s never have a debate audience again! #DemDebate
— Samit Sarkar (@SamitSarkar) March 16, 2020
I personally like not hearing audience cheer and heckle during a debate. What about you?
— Sharyl Attkisson️♂️ (@SharylAttkisson) March 16, 2020
It’s wild we don’t do this no audience at debates thing all the time, so much nicer when the candidates aren’t yelling at each other over catcalls, cheers and boos
— Ryan Murphy (@rdmurphy) March 16, 2020
Please, please don’t EVER bring back a live audience. Without verbal interruptions and the candidates playing to the crowd they see, the debate became the kind of serious exchange the voters need. #DemocraticDebate
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) March 16, 2020
However, MSNBC’s Ari Melber argued that an audience can act as a “counterweight” to the media.
“An audience can add some counterweight to how the media sets the agenda/topics,” he tweeted.
Truly changes the whole energy of the debate; basically there are pros and cons to both formats (an audience can add some counterweight to how the media sets the agenda/topics) https://t.co/ZZOivzR9hH
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) March 16, 2020