Bloomberg qualifies for his first Democratic debate

New York (CNN Business)A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for it here.

The face-off starts at 9pm ET on NBC and MSNBC. If you’re away from a TV, it will be streaming on the Peacock’s various platforms and The Nevada Independent’s website. NBC’s “Nightly Rundown” framed the moment this way: “Michael Bloomberg will face the first major test of his presidential campaign tonight when he makes his debut in the NBC News and MSNBC Democratic Debate, while the billionaire’s team exchanges attacks with the Bernie Sanders camp over the health of the two candidates…”

How will Bloomberg fare?

    Cristina Alesci reports: “Viewers watching the Democratic debate tonight will want sparks to fly between Bloomberg and everyone else, especially Bernie Sanders. And as we’ve reported, all the candidates are ready to rumble. The most unpredictable part of tonight’s main event is how Bloomberg will perform. Several sources close to Bloomberg have told me that as much as he’s rehearsed, Bloomberg could easily say something on stage they’ve never practiced. Although every candidate has some level of unpredictability (and Biden more than others), Bloomberg has a reputation for sometimes making it up as he goes along. For example, his answer to Gayle King when she asked him about stop-and-frisk was to respond that nobody had ever asked him about it until he started running for president. That answer wasn’t in the script.”
    Alesci adds: “Bloomberg also isn’t renowned for his patience or tolerance of criticism. As mayor, he earned a reputation among city hall reporters for being dismissive and snippy when asked a question he didn’t like. Can he keep his cool and be humorous when Sanders and Warren attack him for trying to buy the nomination? If he wants to win over skeptical voters, he’ll need to show them he has the minerals…”

    A nonprofit news site is co-sponsoring

    Wednesday’s debate is a big moment for the Nevada Independent, the three-year-old site founded by veteran Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston.
    Ralston will be moderating alongside NBC’s Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Hallie Jackson, and Noticias Telemundo’s Vanessa Hauc. “I think it’s great that NBC and the DNC are giving The Indy a chance to partner on this,” Ralston told me. “Sure, it’s an honor for me, but I am so proud of what my staff has done to make this happen.” To that last point, check out Indy reporter Megan Messerly’s Twitter thread with some of the news outlet’s standout work…

    Eight and a half months pregnant!

    Some day Hallie Jackson will be able to tell her daughter about this special night. “I hadn’t expected to travel at 8-and-a-half months pregnant, but my providers gave me the all-clear so I’m thrilled to be in Nevada! It’ll likely be my last out-of-town trip before baby girl arrives,” Jackson told Rainesford Stauffer, who wrote for InStyle about women moderators.
    Last May the DNC “announced that they’d require every democratic debate to include at least one woman moderator,” Stauffer wrote. “It goes without saying that diversity matters, as it ties into the range of questions asked, and perspectives represented: Hauc is an immigrant who is representing her Latino community onstage, and Jackson, who is 8.5 months pregnant, is proving that women are just as adept as men at holding politicians accountable…”

    NBC by the numbers

    Per NBC public relations, 300+ NBC News and MSNBC staffers are on the ground in Nevada… There are “5.2 miles of cabling for the production, debate hall, work spaces, media center and broadcast locations…” and “500 square feet of LED screens throughout the debate hall and media center.”
    Inside the debate hall, the Paris Theater at Paris Las Vegas, there are 33 cameras and 1,200 audience seats. Outside the debate hall, there are enough members of the media to cover the Strip: 449 reporters from 151 outlets have been credentialed for the debate…

    The NEXT debate…

    On Wednesday CBS announced the moderators for next Tuesday’s debate in Charleston, SC. Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King will moderate, and Margaret Brennan, Major Garrett, and Bill Whitaker will join in the questioning…

    Charlotte Alter on this week’s “Reliable” podcast

    Amid all the talk about candidates’ health conditions and advanced ages, I think this podcast chat is very well timed: My guest is TIME national correspondent Charlotte Alter, the author of the brand new book “The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For: How a New Generation of Leaders Will Transform America.” She shares insights about millennial politicians like Pete Buttigieg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Listen to our conversation via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, or your preferred app…

    For the record

    — Andrew Yang will make his debut as a CNN political commentator on Wednesday evening. He is the first of the 2020 contenders to strike a TV deal… (CNN)

      — On Wednesday Fox News scheduled its eighth Dem town hall of the cycle: Amy Klobuchar will take Q’s on Thursday, February 27 in Raleigh, NC…
      — Max Tani has a point: “After 2016, people said media needs to do a better job going to real America to cover the issues Americans actually care about. So it’s interesting to see media spend so much time discussing Bernie supporters’ online behavior, an issue primarily affecting media and political pros…” (Twitter)
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