Why CNN’s “Debate Nights” Have Become Must-Watch Television (VIDEO)


This year, CNN has hosted a series of televised debates between prominent members of Congress from both parties on specific topics. Called “CNN Debate Night,” these prime-time debates have been an incredibly good thing for America.

Typical debates and panels on cable news pit a commentator versus a host, or 2-4 commentators against each other, with the host typically taking sides and conservatives underrepresented. They are designed to provoke and to boost ratings through fiery exchanges. But they generally don’t educate anyone.

CNN’s debates, however, allow two sides to go back and forth, Lincoln-Douglas style, with minimal interference from the moderators and relaxed time limits. They are not heavily regulated, one-minute-each formats like we see in presidential debates, where the candidates can’t go much further into an issue than talking points.

The debates have featured Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) versus Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Obamacare — and again Wednesday night on tax reform. Another debate saw Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) take on Sens. Sanders and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) over repealing and replacing Obamacare.

The senators are able to get to the core of each issue and explore the other’s larger vision for America. Wednesday night, for example, there was a riveting and critical moment in which Sanders admitted he wanted to move America towards European-style socialism, and Ted Cruz responded that his vision for America is the American exceptionalism that made us great:

These debates are so important because they are an exchange of ideas, not just talking points. They get down to the core of the issue and paint a clear contrast for Americans on the most pressing issues of the day.

I’m no fan of CNN, but they are doing a great service to America by allowing the top conservative and liberal leaders to discuss their ideas on a national stage so that the American people can learn what each side really believes.

For once, I hope other networks will take a cue from CNN, because these debates are possibly the best thing that’s ever come to cable news. You’ve got to watch them.

Photo credit: Screenshot via YouTube

Thomas Valentine

Thomas Valentine is a columnist for

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