On Tuesday night ahead of the first 2016 Democratic presidential debate, ABC’s World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News put forth their best efforts to paint a favorable scene for Hillary Clinton by touting her as “relatable” while “need[ing] to show voters a different side” as she shoulders the “burden” of trying “to protect her front-runner status.”
At the top of ABC’s World News Tonight, anchor David Muir hyped that “[t]he stakes are enormous for Hillary Clinton” but is “no stranger to the debate stage” after numerous debates in her 2000 U.S. Senate campaign and failed 2008 presidential bid against then-Senator Barack Obama.
With 2016 signaling “a brand new fight,” Muir hyped that she’s already “shooting back” at Republican candidate Donald Trump for “weighing in” on the festivities before they begin.
Turning things over to Clinton campaign correspondent Cecilia Vega, Vega continued the network-wide pandering by passing along a tweet the campaign sent out earlier in the day along with promoting her stop at the hotel in Vegas owned by Trump: “Clinton tweeting this photo, saying she's been debating important issues since high school. Her goals tonight? Attack Republicans, not the other Democrats on stage and her first stop on this trip to Las Vegas? Donald Trump's hotel.”
Since that wasn’t enough, Vega declared that Clinton “also needs to show voters a different side” that’s in conjunction with her Saturday Night Live appearance that showed she’s “relatable” but “cannot afford to make any mistakes.”
Following a similar pattern, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt ruled at the top of the newscast that “[t]he burden is on Hillary Clinton to protect her front-runner status and on Bernie Sanders to prove he is more than a shooting star but there are three other contenders desperate to make headlines too, which is why there is so much anticipation about what happens in Las Vegas on this night.”
As only she could, Clinton correspondent and MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell gushed that Clinton “is by far the most experienced debater all of the candidates tonight, so if this is her contest to lose.” Mitchell added that she already took time out of her trip to Sin City “to position herself as the presumptive nominee [by] already going after Donald Trump, joining union protesters outside of his non-union hotel here.”
Mitchell later wrapped up her segment with a fawning nod to how former President Bill Clinton is in Vegas but will not be attending the debate:
Now, Bill Clinton is also here tonight, but he is behind the scenes. He's perhaps the best Democratic debate coach of all, helping his wife prepare, but he will not be here on stage or off stage tonight. He wants to avoid the spotlight, letting Hillary Clinton take that light. Also watching, as I say, from home, Joe Biden, waiting to see just how Hillary Clinton does. Lester.