With CNN hosting the second Republican debate, it's clear they are aware of the ratings Fox had with the first. According to Nielsen, a reported 24 million viewers watched the first debates, more than twice the audience for The Walking Dead though if you watched the debates you saw distinct similarities between the two.
But for a news organization who for the last few years has been to journalism what junk bonds are to Wall Street,whose ratings start with a zero, a potential for 10 million viewers has to be exploited. And so CNN is pulling out all the stops.
For three days anyone turning on CNN would think there was nothing else happening in the world other than this debate. There is virtually nothing else they are talking about and its no accident. Its not a public service decision, CNN hasn't had one of those in 15 years. Its a marketing decision, just like the banners that take up a full third of the bottom of the screen promoting their nighttime entertainment style shows no matter what news story is being covered.
For three days they have even posted that silly countdown graphic that started counting down the time until the debate down to the seconds even when it was 72 hours away.
It is the kind of carnival barker journalism CNN has become with Wolf Blitzer the principle barker, but every other CNN anchor doing the same.
CNN is hoping to build up as much interest in their debate as possible in the hopes of snagging the millions of viewer CNN hasn't seen in two decades.
And they will try and wring every last ratings point they can get meaning they will be talking about nothing else for days after the debate, and then try to figure out more ways to exploit it. Maybe by strapping Martin Savage into the cockpit of Trumps jet a la MH-17.
It will probably have the opposite effect as it always does, driving people away who actually want to get some news.
And just so you don't miss the point, while Fox promoted the debate as " The First Republican Debate", CNN has opted to put in the word "BIG", on screen graphics, referring to it as "Big GOP debate tonight" , kind of like " Big Dance Tonight" making no bones about what they are hoping for. Which is Big. As in ratings.
CNN has gotten so cheesy and shameless about it they are doing promos for the debate featuring interviews with the technicians and crew setting up the technical side of the debate telecast complete with cameras zooming in on sound mixers, panning shots of the control room, quick cuts of stage hands putting up lights, and panning shots of the stage, because they want you to know, this is BIG.
Just in case you didn't get it from all the other CNN promos.
NOTE: According to the published Neilsen ratings for the debate, 22 million watched, short of Fox's 24 million but still the largest audience in the 35 year history of CNN. Which means that if Trump's presidential bid fails you can count on CNN offering Trump the store to have him do a one hour political commentary show on CNN.