Presidential-race drama sells.
That’s why cable news channels’ audiences went way up during their wall-to-wall coverage of Monday night’s Iowa Caucuses.
From deadline.com, an online magazine covering the “infotainment” business:
“FNC [Fox News] peaked at 10:30 p.m. with 5.1 million viewers. CNN topped out at 10:45 p.m. with 4.3 million.”
Even MSNBC, which has long struggled in the ratings game, pulled in 2.5 million viewers at 10:30 p.m.
OK, so that adds up to less than 12 million viewers in a nation of roughly 320 million people. Then again, those TV news outfits wouldn’t be going wall to wall on the White House competition if it didn’t bring more eyes to the screen than their standard fare.
And yes, some media outlets blatantly exploit the often unnerving spectacle of choosing our next president, traumatizing the public in the self-serving process.
Now the political road show has moved to New Hampshire, where the first primaries (not caucuses) for both parties will be held next Tuesday. A Democratic debate from Durham, N.H., will air tonight on MSNBC.
Then it will be our turn in the polarizing spotlight thanks to the S.C. Republican (Feb. 20) and Democratic (Feb. 27) presidential primaries.
So please try to look, sound and act your best as not just the nation but the world checks us out.
Then you can revert to normal in March.
Meanwhile, keep in mind that you can vote in either S.C. primary, but not both.
Keep in mind, too, that the longer Bernie Sanders stays in the race, the more trouble he can cause for Hillary Clinton.
Her ominously slim Iowa victory (or was it a tie with Sanders?) further eroded the once-pervasive sense of inevitability about her nomination.
And the FBI is still hot on the former Secretary of State’s trail for putting highly classified material on her private email server.
Plus, commondreams.org, a nonprofit “progressive news website,” recently sent out an email of its own entitled “Bernie vs. the Oligarchs.”
Many pundits still dismiss old (age 74) socialist Sanders’ swelling support — especially among young people — as a flash in the progressive pan.
However, lots of folks way out there on the left, regardless of age, disdain the notion of a second President Clinton. They see Hillary — and Bill — as at best craven accomplices to, and at worst devious members of, the big-bucks ruling class.
Some of them even see South Carolina as another state where Mrs. Clinton is increasingly vulnerable to Sanders’ call for “revolution.”
(answers at column’s end)
1) Name the 2014 TV movie, airing at 9 Sunday night on the Syfy Channel, featuring a cameo by a late-night TV talk-show host.
2) What is the bad-guy presidential candidate’s catch phrase in the 2003 film “Head of State”?
3) Name the victor in the epic cinematic clash of 1965’s “Godzilla vs. Monster Zero.”
South Carolina’s Big GOP Three don’t agree on who should be the party’s presidential nominee.
But Sen. Tim Scott endorsed Marco Rubio on Tuesday. Sen. Lindsey Graham endorsed Jeb Bush 20 days ago. Gov. Nikki Haley hasn’t endorsed anybody.
Jeb, who carries with his last name the inherent burden of persuading voters to elect a third President Bush, finished a distant sixth with a mere 2.8 percent of the Iowa vote.
And Rubio’s late surge to a strong third-place Iowa finish there expanded the GOP race to three, instead of two, seemingly viable contenders.
Barring a stunning comeback by somebody outside that top trio, you can fairly figure that it’s not a question of if Graham and Haley come around to backing Rubio.
It’s a question of when.
Or do you really think either of them would back Donald Trump or Ted Cruz?
1) “Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda,” the 2014 sequel to the 2010 Syfy original film “Sharktopus,” airs again Sunday night on that cable channel. Conan O’Brien briefly appears, typecast as himself on a crowded beach, bragging that he’s a TV “icon.” Then his boasting is sharply cut short by a dangerous denizen of the deep. Or maybe you would rather watch this other coming Sunday night attraction: Panthers vs. Broncos on WCSC.
2) Vice President Brian Lewis (played by Nick Searcy) resorts to even dirtier politics in 2003’s “Head of State” than the Cruz camp did in Iowa on Monday, when it spread the false rumor that Dr. Ben Carson was getting out of the race. But Lewis, who’s running against everyman hero Mays Gilliam (Chris Rock), does repeatedly deliver this catchy campaign slogan: “God bless America, and no place else.”
And no, despite Trump’s demand Wednesday for a “do-over” in Iowa because of Cruz’ “fraud,” there will be no sequel to that heartland blockbuster.
3) Godzilla, with Rodan’s help, defeats Monster Zero in the 1965 film, which also stars Nick Adams, who plays Confederate veteran Johnny Yuma on ABC’s underrated 1959-61 Western series “The Rebel.”
No, Monster Zero doesn’t die from the beating he takes.
But he does flee our planet after realizing he can’t win.
Or to put it another way, Monster Zero suspends his campaign.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.