The Democratic National Committee is seeking to avoid the disaster that was the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. Former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was berated for months for limiting the number of Democratic debates to six, a decision which clearly favored candidate Hillary Clinton, who enjoyed both clout and name recognition. Others, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), had to fight to be noticed. Voters booed Democratic leadership for essentially silencing their preferred candidates.
The candidates should be getting a fairer shot in the primary process in 2020, with the DNC having scheduled double the amount of debates. Yet, because of the vast amount of candidates, still not everyone will get a spot on the stage. The committee's new criteria for debate participation asks for candidates to reach a certain threshold in either polling or grassroots fundraising. Only the top 20 will make it and if necessary, the debate will be stretched to two nights.
“We’ve spent months working with media partners to provide this unprecedented opportunity for candidates and voters to get to know each other,” DNC Chair Tom Perez said. “Because campaigns are won on the strength of their grassroots, we also updated the threshold, giving all types of candidates the opportunity to reach the debate stage and giving small-dollar donors a bigger voice in the primary than ever before.”
Donna Brazile wrote a whole book about the preferential treatment she witnessed while serving as the DNC's interim chair in 2016. For instance, the committee entered into a joint fundraising agreement with the Clinton campaign that allowed them to "control" the DNC's funds.
It was revealed on Thursday that NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo will be hosting the first Democratic presidential primary debate in June 2019.
NBC News chairman Andy Lack congratulated his team and he promised voters they can expect a fair, formidable contest.
“Our coverage will reflect what the American people have come to expect of us: a substantive, rigorous, and inclusive examination of the candidates’ views across the most important issues," he wrote in a memo.