June 28, 2019

This week on To The Contrary with Bonnie Erbe, our panelists discuss the first Democratic debates and why women might be tuning out of cable news.

On the panel this week joining host Bonnie Erbe is: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC); Lara Brown, Associate Professor, George Washington University; Tiana Lowe, Commentary Writer, Washington Examiner; Sabrina Schaeffer, Senior Director, White House Writers Group.

Click read more to see what they had to say!

First Democratic Debate

Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Marianne Williamson joined 14 men in the debates.

  • Lara Brown: “One of the things that's so exciting about this is that you do see a multiplicity of women arguing a lot of different ideological perspectives. And it is true that when you look at the Democratic Party, in 2016 they pulled 54% of the women's vote, but in 2018 they pulled 59% of the women's vote. And I think as we look toward 2020, it's going to be so important for the Democrats to show that it means something to have a woman in leadership on the ticket.”

  • Bonnie Erbe: “Do you, [as many in the media think], think Kamala Harris either made great strides toward or actually even became the front runner after her dispute on Thursday night with Biden?”

  • Del. Norton: “I think what [Kamala Harris] did was to find a legitimate way to put race on the table. Now remember, there’s another very talented African American running as well. And by finding a way to do it without being demagogic about it, particularly considering that black women are the largest category of Democratic voters. That certainly was good for her.” 

  • Tiana Lowe: “It definitely normalized the presence of women in a Presidential election. Even when Mayor Pete Buttigieg just casually referenced that he has a husband, you know. Women should not be a special interest group. They should just be another category of person who, if they work hard enough, are going to be represented on that debate stage.”

  • Sabrina Schaeffer: “I don't always agree with everything that all the women on the stage were saying last night, but what came through was a distinct difference from the last rounds of the last election, where Hillary Clinton was sort of criticized for being somewhat robotic, and not really speaking from the heart. And I think what came out last night with these were women who were speaking from the heart. I mean, Kamala Harris - obviously nobody goes up there unprepared - but she was speaking like a human being. And it was it was coming from somewhere real. And I think that is going to resonate with voters. I think the reason that Donald Trump did so well is that he tapped into something real for people whether or not you agreed with it or not. And she did. She did something that was extraordinary in that way.” 

Women vs. Cable News

Jessica Yellin, formerly of CNN, tells us why she thinks women are tuning out.

  • Del. Norton: “I’m think yes, women don’t like this fist-fighting as much. But given the last election, I don’t think they were tuned out by it. I also think that the notion of the competition riles people up. And that’s what politics is all about.” (24:37)

  • Lara Brown: “People like people. So I do think that one of the things that the media is right about is even if the horse race coverage isn't so great for our knowledge, she is right about the fact that people's stories matter. And I think there is a long way that the media could go toward engaging people around people.” (23:28)

  • Bonnie Erbe: “A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows almost seven in ten Americans rate their interest in the election as a nine or ten out of ten. That’s up from six in ten in the previous electoral cycle.” (21:57)

  • Sabrina Schaeffer: “I think that this is interesting and I think we might be in a period of change right now because there was a period not very long ago where research was showing that women were definitely tuning things out. That in fact it was having a distinct impact on women running for office, because they thought that the noise of the 24-hour news cycle would mean that they couldn’t get their message out. Certainly that was not the case in 2018. A record number of Democratic women ran for office; a record number of women ran out to vote. So we may be experiencing a change. And I think part of that is also the fact that we have so many more news outlets, so if you don’t like some of the cable news shows, you can tune into To The Contrary where we have more civilized conversation.” 

  • Tiana Lowe: “Maybe I’m the anomaly, but I love the fight. My issue with a lot of cable news isn’t about the belligerence. I love that. I want blood. It’s more the issue, you know, I turned on CNN after the Mueller Report came out. I watched, I read all four hundred and forty pages of it. Why were there nine people who had not read the Mueller Report reporting on the Mueller Report immediately after it was released?” 

Be sure to tune in this week for more discussion! Click here to check your local listings.