Dispatches From the Clinton-Trump Front Lines

Cable news vets on how the 2016 race rewrote the rules for presidential campaigns and coverage
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With a week left in the seemingly interminable 2016 election, reporters and industry watchers on the front lines of the often tawdry battle suggest that Trump v. Clinton may alter the face of American politics, and the way it’s covered, for years to come.

While Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been scrutinized from every conceivable angle, it remains paradoxically possible that the electorate still doesn’t know where they stand on key issues. Exactly who’s at fault for that — the candidates, the journalists who cover them or the public that watches the journalists cover them — is a matter of opinion.

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Bill Hemmer, co-anchor of Fox News Channel’s America’s Newsroom, said one could make a case that neither candidate has yet been fully vetted.

“That may be the story Nov. 9,” Hemmer said. “I don’t think we know how either one of them would govern. Generally speaking, we do not know their policy positions.”

Read more about the 2016 presidential campaign.

Andrew Tyndall, editor of the news analysis-focused Tyndall Report, said 2008 ushered in the modern era of the personality-driven presidential campaign, with then-political wunderkind Barack Obama facing off against steely war hero John McCain. Tyndall believes that dynamic has dominated the 2016 bout.

“People say it’s a horse race,” Tyndall said. “But it’s Survivor, not Seabiscuit. It’s a reality TV race more than it’s a horse race.”

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With their sheer tonnage of air time, the cable news networks have focused both on the personalities and on the less sexy issues. Jake Tapper, chief Washington correspondent at CNN, spoke of seeing a “real hunger” among the public for meaty discussions.

“There’s an appreciation for non-partisan questions for both Democrats and Republicans,” Tapper said. “It’s real and it’s appreciated by a great deal by viewers.”

Read more at broadcastingcable.com.

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