Following the Republican debate on CNBC October 28, the contestants seemed to govern one outcome of the debate, dissatisfaction with the debate rules and anger towards the moderators. Considering the complaints, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus has since “suspended” their partnership with NBC and their future debate with the network at the University of Houston on February 26, 2016. Circumventing the RNC’s and NBC’s authority however, Republican presidential candidates privately met in D.C. to make their own rules for upcoming debates.
Framed using a conflict perspective, MSNBC and Fox News have discussed the subject quite differently as predicted. MSNBC has framed the event as an inter-group conflict, an overarching fight with NBC but a more problematic challenge between the RNC and the presidential candidates. Fox News focuses on the conflict between NBC and the RNC, with slight anecdotes regarding each campaign’s specific interest in resolving the issue amongst themselves.
Each article is accompanied by a clip from each network, which further exacerbates their use of a conflict perspective. The Fox article and video highlight NBC as a weak player, in great need of viewership. Fox also characterizes NBC as tricky, especially in their official comment to the RNC stating, “This is a disappointing development. However, along with our debate broadcast partners at Telemundo we will work in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party.” Host of ‘Happening Now’ Jenna Lee, describes NBC as making a low editorial play, believing NBC harshly alluded to Republican’s lack of connection with Hispanic voters. Satirizing NBC’s statement Lee proclaimed, “Hey Republicans, you are stereotyped as being racists towards the Hispanics, we’re giving you a little jab in the ribs, because hey Telemundo’s our partner.” Howard Kurtz, Fox News media analyst, said moderator’s tone during the debate was “condescending” and “hostile” and agreed with Lee’s satirical comments.
Steve Benen’s MSNBC article, and host Rachel Maddow’s corresponding clip, believes the dissatisfaction surrounding the debate was a crowd pleasing tactic to blame the mainstream media and focus voters away from the issues. Arguing, fixing debate rules based on their preferences allows Republicans to continue talking into an echo-chamber and remain unwelcome “to those they do not agree with on every issue.” Accompanied by Nicolle Wallace a former advisor to the McCain/Palin campaign and current consultant for Jeb Bush, Maddow explores why campaigns are circumventing the RNC. Like the article, it is concluded that the Republican candidates do not believe the RNC is necessary to fight for their interests and, perhaps counter to solving the problem, keeping the debate rules the way they are currently may bring the Republican candidates closer together.
Overall, it is interesting when analyzing partisan media because when watching each clip and reading each article, the hosts/authors concentrate on what the other party should be doing differently. Ironically, if each party matched the opposite party’s ideal there would be an absence of conflict. In waiting for the journalistic outcomes of tonight’s debate, we can only assume that a game frame or conflict perspective will be used again however, the media will most likely regain control of the debate’s results.