This past week, Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton agreed to four additional debates in the coming months. These debates double the amount of debates previously sanctioned. However, these debates only come and were discussed at the whim of Hillary Clinton.
Secretary Clinton called for more debates on Jan. 27, after Senator Sanders virtually closed the gap between the two candidates in Iowa. This is also after Sanders and former presidential candidate Martin O’Malley have called for more debates since the schedule came out in August. However, it was only after Clinton’s request that Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who in 2008 co-chaired Clinton’s 2008 campaign, allowed more Democratic debates.
Originally, past debates were on weekends or holidays, significantly lowering the amount of viewers. For example, the first 2016 debate for the Democrats, which was held on a Sunday night and a holiday weekend, had 10.2 million viewers, the biggest audience since October. However, on the Republican side, a debate the week before had an 11 million viewers, one of the lower-rated debates, but still out-performing the Democratic debates.
Specifically, Clinton called for a debate in Flint, Michigan as one of the venues. Campaign Chair John Podesta said, “We should use the spotlight of the presidential campaign to keep the focus on Flint, and to lift up the historic underlying issues that Flint and too many other predominantly low-income communities of color across America are struggling with every day.”
However, Sanders also had a specific location for the next few debates. Sanders, as part of his demands, wanted a debate in Brooklyn, New York, in April. In response, Clinton shot back and claimed that the Sanders campaign was “moving the goalposts” on the issue. Sanders countered Clinton by asking how hard is it to debate in the city her campaign headquarters are in.
It’s not just the DNC that’s biased against Sanders, though. In an experiment, Ryan Whitacker from Decision Data analyzed what presidential campaigns covered against what people wanted to hear, measured through Google searches. Measuring the amount of media mentions against Google searches from June 2015 to present, he discovered that Clinton gets .01 media mentions per Google search, while Sanders gets .001. Even Martin O’Malley got more media mentions than Sanders at .003, even though he polled much lower during that time period.
After this debate debacle, it can firmly be stated that the DNC has a bias for Hillary Clinton and against Bernie Sanders. Sanders has been begging for more debates for months, but Wasserman-Schultz ignored him. However, now that has Clinton asked for more debates, the subject has come to the forefront of news, and Hillary Clinton gets what she wants.