Media And Academia Have ‘Outsized Influence’ In Selecting Democratic Debate Candidates, Says Commentator

Chair of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez speaks to the audience attending the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan.
Scott Olson / Getty Images

Ahead of Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, conservative commentator and senior-editor-at-large for Breitbart News, Joel B. Pollak, penned a column on the purported influence that the mainstream media and academia have on selecting the candidates who take the stage.

Pollak noted the Democratic National Committee (DNC) debate rules that require polling thresholds in surveys that are conducted by “certain established media outlets and academic pollsters” approved by the governing body. He also noted that none of these outlets are required to do polls within a specific timeframe, which means certain stretches of infrequent polling can negatively affect particular candidates.

A lack of approved polls had prompted former candidate Andrew Yang to commission his own polling after the DNC refused to do so, but he still failed to qualify for the stage. Now, as Pollack notes, Tom Steyer was unable to be eligible in similar circumstances — he met the minimum threshold in four polls in Nevada and South Carolina, but none of the DNC-approved polls.

“Worse, the DNC criteria for the Nevada debate used a shortened timeframe that excluded earlier polls in those states,” Pollack wrote. “And as Steyer noted, there were no polls conducted by DNC-approved outlets in Nevada and South Carolina within the timeframe, meaning that there was no way Steyer could have qualified for the debate except through nationwide polls.”

Pollack also noted that the DNC changed its debate requirements which ended up paving the way for Michael Bloomberg‘s qualification — a decision that Yang said was explicitly made to help the billionaire.

According to Pollack, Steyer’s exclusion reveals the “outsized influence” that academia and mainstream media outlets have on the candidate selection process for the Democratic debates.

“If the DNC-approved organizations had wanted to ensure a fair playing field, they could have polled Nevada and South Carolina. The fact is that they chose not to do so.”

In The Washington Examiner, Brad Polumbo highlighted that several campaigns hit polling requirements but were held back because said surveys were not DNC-approved. He also pointed to the DNC’s alleged history of bias against outsider and anti-establishment candidates, including during the 2016 Democratic primary which many say was tilted against Sanders. Notably, leaked emails showed many examples of DNC officials expressing anti-Sanders bias.

Polumbo pointed to the DNC’s apparent bias against Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who resigned from her DNC position in 2016 after witnessing the alleged bias against Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton.