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The fourth GOP debate will be a key moment for the young NewsNation cable network

by Chloe Baker
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NewsNation GOP Debate

The upcoming fourth GOP debate is poised to be a pivotal moment for the relatively young NewsNation cable network. Set to air on Wednesday, this debate, albeit without Donald Trump’s participation, is anticipated to draw the network’s largest audience to date.

However, the choice of debate moderators has raised questions about the alignment of the event with NewsNation’s centrist image. Notably, two of the three moderators have ties to conservative media, including the well-known podcast personality, Megyn Kelly. This poses a potential challenge to NewsNation’s efforts to cultivate a centrist identity.

Cherie Grzech, NewsNation’s Senior Vice President of News and Politics, views this as an incredible opportunity to showcase the network’s offerings to a broader audience. She encourages skeptics to tune in and witness NewsNation’s approach firsthand.

The debate is scheduled to run from 8 to 10 p.m. ET and will be simulcast on the CW network, which shares ownership with NewsNation under the Nexstar Media Group. The CW will broadcast the event live in the eastern U.S. and on tape delay in the western regions.

NewsNation took over from the former WGN America network in late 2020, and it has aimed to establish itself by bringing in well-known personalities from other networks, such as Chris Cuomo from CNN, Dan Abrams of ABC News, Ashleigh Banfield from MSNBC, and former Fox News host Leland Vittert.

However, viewership numbers suggest that NewsNation is still seeking its audience. In November, the network averaged 99,000 viewers during prime time, while competitors like Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, and Newsmax drew significantly larger viewership, according to Nielsen data.

NewsNation markets itself as an unbiased alternative to its more partisan counterparts, aiming to appeal to the “marginalized moderate majority” who seek less hyper-partisan coverage. Yet, critics, including the liberal media watchdog Media Matters, contend that NewsNation tends to lean more right than its centrist claims suggest.

The network has also faced criticism for its limited representation of left-leaning voices. Some argue that these voices are scarcely heard and are often treated cursorily, raising questions about the network’s commitment to balance.

Despite these critiques, NewsNation maintains that it provides a balanced perspective. Cherie Grzech, for instance, asserts that critics may not have explored the network thoroughly.

The Republican National Committee awarded the rights to televise the upcoming debate, and the moderators were selected accordingly. Elizabeth Vargas, with NewsNation ties, is among them, alongside Eliana Johnson of the conservative site Washington Free Beacon. The headline moderator, however, is Megyn Kelly, known for her previous role in the 2016 Republican presidential nominating process debates, during which she famously clashed with Donald Trump.

Kelly’s transition to a more opinionated role in podcasting and radio has sparked debate about her suitability as a debate moderator, traditionally a role filled by impartial journalists. Some question whether her newfound approach aligns with the expectations of a moderator.

While there is an argument that conservative media figures may better connect with potential GOP primary voters, concerns arise about avoiding uncomfortable topics. Grzech emphasizes that questions about Trump, who is absent from the debate but leads in the polls, are entirely legitimate.

The spotlight shines on NewsNation as it navigates this high-profile debate, with its approach to this event set to define its role and reputation in the media landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about NewsNation GOP Debate

What is the significance of the fourth GOP debate for NewsNation?

The fourth GOP debate represents a pivotal moment for the young NewsNation cable network as it aims to attract its largest audience to date, even without Donald Trump’s participation.

Why is the choice of debate moderators raising concerns for NewsNation?

Two of the three debate moderators, including Megyn Kelly, have ties to conservative media, which poses a potential challenge to NewsNation’s centrist image.

Who is Megyn Kelly, and why is her role in this debate significant?

Megyn Kelly is a well-known podcast personality and former Fox News host. Her transition to a more opinionated role in podcasting has sparked debate about her suitability as a debate moderator.

What is NewsNation’s viewership status compared to other news networks?

NewsNation is still working to establish its viewership, with 99,000 average viewers in prime time in November, significantly lower than competitors like Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, and Newsmax.

How does NewsNation position itself in the media landscape?

NewsNation positions itself as an unbiased alternative to its more partisan counterparts, aiming to appeal to a “marginalized moderate majority.”

What criticisms has NewsNation faced regarding its balance and representation of voices?

Critics, including Media Matters, suggest that NewsNation tends to lean more right than its centrist claims suggest and that left-leaning voices are inadequately represented.

How did the Republican National Committee select the debate moderators?

The Republican National Committee chose the debate moderators, with one moderator having ties to NewsNation, and the headline moderator being Megyn Kelly.

Why are there concerns about Megyn Kelly’s role as a debate moderator?

Some question whether Megyn Kelly’s more opinionated approach in her new media roles aligns with the expectations of a debate moderator.

What legitimate questions are raised about the debate, especially regarding Trump?

Questions about Trump, who is absent from the debate but leads in the polls, are seen as legitimate and pertinent to the discussion.

What does this moment mean for NewsNation in the media landscape?

This high-profile debate provides NewsNation with an opportunity to define its role and reputation in the media landscape as it navigates this significant event.

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