It was a controversial announcement: The Democratic National Committee said yesterday that it would not allow Fox News to host a debate among Democratic primary contenders in this election cycle
because it questions the independent judgement of the cable news channel many think of as President Trump’s mouthpiece. While conservative observers were furious because of the DNC’s announcement, many on the left also questioned the decision, including CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Both TV debates among primary and presidential candidates are hosted on a rotating basis by different cable and syndicated channels, including CNN, Fox News, CBS, PBS, NBC, ABC and Univision. While the many primary debates are normally only broadcasted by hosting and local channels, presidential debates are limited to three per election cycle and are broadcasted simultaneously on all participating stations, leading to high viewership numbers.
The most watched presidential debate to date was the first presidential debate of 2016 between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, which had 84 million people watching. Research by Nielsen
shows that in 2016, 29.2 million people only watched Republican primary candidates debate, while 30.2 million were only watching their Democratic counterparts. 37.8 million viewers were interested in both party’s primary debates.