Are Presidential Debates becoming the new reality TV?

Tanner | Nov 14, 2011

There are several people who stand on a brightly-lit stage and answer questions, one after the other. The answers these people give can define their future, can make or break their success. Millions of people from around the Nation tune-in to see what’s going to be discussed and judge the candidates based on their answers during these broadcasts. While it sounds like an iteration of American Idol or a slightly-less-exciting version of Big Brother, it’s actually the Presidential Debates that we’re talking about here. As American Idol approaches Season 11 and new reality/challenge shows such as The X-Factor and The Voice take the Nation by broadcast-storm, maybe it’s time to wonder how these reality-type shows affect us when it comes to similar broadcasts, like the recent Presidential debates. Why? Because reality shows certainly do impact our perception of anything that is eerily similar to them, and that’s changing the way Americans are tuning-in and thinking about politics. For example, in a recent New York Times article, the man who helped manage John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, Steve Schmidt, states that “All of these debates are taking place at a moment in time where shows like ‘American Idol’ have become deeply ingrained in the culture. People watch a performance and render an immediate judgment. Now, [a viewer's judgement is] instantaneous. It’s a harsh, tough verdict that is rendered not by the political insiders but by the body politic.” Is the changing perception of televised political debates a good thing, or bad? While the answer to such a question is entirely personal, it’s enough to make you wonder: how many of us are taking such important debates seriously, and not as simply another type of reality TV show?


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