Friday, October 3, 2008

Winners and Losers

Once the global cooling triggered by a massive surge of Republicans all breathing a sigh of relief last night that their vice-presidential candidate did not embarrass herself or them last night had begun to wane, the question started making the rounds: did Palin actually win the debate?

The MSM is insisting that she didn't, that Biden did, or that Palin won on style but Biden on substance. Considering how much of that substance was inaccurate at best, the MSM may want to rethink that; instead of chuckling about Palin being able to see Russia from Alaska, the people of America are now chuckling about Biden's claim to have visited a restaurant recently that was closed almost twenty years ago. I think M. Night Shyamalan should get right on this, and make a movie about a spooky politician with the uncanny ability...to see dead restaurants!!!

All of that aside, however, I think it's foolish to pretend that nobody won this debate. Somebody did:

Preliminary Nielsen data shows the 90-minute sparring session on Thursday in St. Louis drew an average household rating of 45.0 -- the percentage of all homes that were tuned to the debate -- in the nation's 55 largest metropolitan areas.

Nielsen said it expected to release final national ratings and a tally of individual viewers later in the day. [...]

In fact, if the latest numbers hold up, Thursday's debate will be the most highly rated ever between vice presidential candidates, eclipsing the old record held by the first woman on a major-party ticket, Geraldine Ferraro, and the Republican incumbent at the time, George H.W. Bush.

The Palin-Biden bout also appears likely to stand as the most watched of any nationally televised political debate in 16 years, going back to a three-way match in 1992 that included then-President George H.W. Bush, Democrat Bill Clinton and independent Ross Perot.

So it's clear: the winner of last night's debate was the media, which had created the myth of the bumbling Palin and reminded people endlessly about Biden's gaffe factor in a bid to stir up interest, which has to have succeeded beyond their wildest imaginings.

Of course, the MSM must be kicking themselves, now, for their relentless skewering of Palin up to this point. Sure, it raised interest in the debate, but Palin's even less likely to pay them back with the access they've got to be coveting now than she was before. The MSM has found out, just too late, that Palin is somebody the average American will tune in to watch--and they've gone and made themselves a known enemy to her. So maybe they won--but maybe it was a Pyrrhic victory, after all.

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