Why commentary matters.
The idea of political debates almost always connotates the idea of debate, or political commentary. Does policial commentary even matter?
The Opportunity For Growth
The modern political spectrum offers many opportunities for commentary, judgment, and insights amongst an every changing landscape. Between party primaries, Congressional elections, and of course the presidential race it seems as if the political race is never ending. While many see this bombardment as annoying and obnoxious, the prominence of modern political commendatry has evolved with the transformation of the media landscape itself.
The Era of 24/7 News
March 19, 1979. This was the launch date for C-SPAN, or Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network. This was the dawn of the 24/7 news era. The goal of CSPAN was simple: coverage of governmental proceedings and procedings in the House of Representatives. While C-SPAN may not be an offender, it was the spark for later news stations to come. A little over a year later on June 1, 1980 CNN was launched. It was only natural that CNN would commentate and have specials regarding coverage from C-SPAN in order to fill the twenty-four hours in a day. Out of this evolved professional political commentators. Naturally these people grew to consider themselves as experts on debates, and thus as having rights to 'critiques' the candidates and campaigns. It was also only a matter of time until these critiques took on a tone of pugnacity that has branded such organizations as Fox News and CNBC with an unfavorable public opinion.
Note the difference in the videos, with CSPAN being educational while CNN is clearly entertainment.
The explosion of Primaries and subsequent Debates
Primaries are nothing new as political parties have used them for many years to determine their respective nomination for presidential candidates. What is new however, is the coverage of such and their subsequent debates. As 24/7 news networks grew in numbers and popularity they began to look for ways to expand their program offerings. What proved popular were debates. Presidential debates were rating gold mines for such networks. The only problem was that they occur every four years, which isn't very often. A natural progression would be to expand their coverage to the entire election process. Now, networks begin coverage over a year before the election sometimes closer to two years. Along with the increased coverage came increased ratings and revenues. It proved very popular with the American viewers. Why only cover three or four debates when the network itself can host many more for the party primaries?