BROOKLYN–Here at CNN’s Democratic debate in this booming New York borough, the stakes in the race between Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are huge. If you don’t believe that, just check with the news outlet hosting the event. See chyron in the photo above.
“HUGE STAKES BEFORE CNN DEMOCRATIC DEBATE,” read the screen just moments before the candidates took the stage. At 8:00 p.m., CNN host Chris Cuomo came on the air and said this: “We are going to have the CNN debate, perhaps the biggest night for the Democrats in the presidential race so far. Just five days from the New York primary, which is more important than anyone imagined. The stakes could not be higher.”
Back in September, CNN hosted its very first presidential debate of the 2016 primary season, among a massive field of Republican candidates. “It’s debate night for the Republicans. The candidates are here. The pressure is on, and the stakes are higher than ever,” said CNN host Jake Tapper in introducing the CNN event. And just in case you didn’t trust Tapper on that front, host Anderson Cooper had a similar assessment on the CNN event: “Tonight, the stakes are sky-high.”
In October, CNN hosted a Democratic debate. And the stakes were not low. “And ‘Outfront’ tonight, the high stakes in Vegas, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders front and center head to head in their first debate of the 2016 presidential campaign,” said CNN host Erin Burnett prior to the stakes-heavy CNN event.
In December, CNN hosted a Republican debate in Las Vegas, where the stakes were…well, let host John Berman take over: “This is the final Republican debate of 2015. The stakes could not be higher.” Why were those stakes so high? Berman continued: “After this, things quiet down for a couple of weeks as they head into the holidays. So these candidates, they have to get their message out now because they won’t have another chance to do it for some time,” said Berman, in an explanation that could just as easily lead to the conclusion that the stakes could not have been lower.
On March 1, at 6:00 p.m., during CNN’s “Situation Room,” the voice-of-God narrator intoned: “America is choosing. The campaign is moving across the map. And the Super Tuesday stakes are sky-high right now.”
Four days later, CNN’s Victor Blackwell: “This is Super Saturday. There is a lot going on. We are going to cover all of the voters across five states. We’ll head to the polls or caucuses. For the Republicans, the stakes have never been higher.” Perhaps those stakes had been on an even plane since the past September, when Tapper said the same thing. That’s physically possible.
On March 15, CNN’s voice-of-God narrator said, “On this high-stakes Super Tuesday, it’s America’s choice.”
America might just choose a bit less hyperbole from their 24-7 news, if only to leave some running room for the fall. After all, how will this network describe the stakes before a debate in the general election?