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Hullabaloo


Monday, February 15, 2016

 
Where were Trump's yahoos?

by digby





















This strikes me as an obvious observation, but one which the networks should disclose to the television audience ahead of time.

The audience at Saturday's CBS News Republican presidential debate was more boisterous than usual -- booing, clapping and generally making its feelings known during several exchanges between candidates on stage in Greenville, South Carolina.

At various points, attendees seemed to favor former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and to be very much against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and real estate mogul Donald Trump -- the two candidates currently leading the race.

The way the Republican National Committee distributed the tickets may have been behind the heightened reactions.

According to RNC spokesman Sean Spicer, 600 tickets -- of the available 1,600 seats in the Peace Center -- were reserved for the candidates' supporters and friends. That number is more generous than in previous debates. The RNC got 367 tickets, and 550 seats went to state GOP and local officials.

Moreover, local party officials apparently decided to forgo a lottery system in favor of giving loyal supporters tickets due to the venue size, according to Chad Groover, chairman of the Greenville County Republican party.

"You'll have a good mix of people who are donors, people who are donors and workers, and people who are just workers," Groover told local news station WYFF.

Depending on its reaction, a debate audience can have a powerful effect on how both at-home viewers and the media perceive candidate performance. Jeers against candidates are especially likely to draw headlines -- such as the boos Trump and Cruz received Saturday night.

Campaigns are cognizant of the role an audience can play, and therefore engage in their own stagecraft by making sure supporters applaud their candidate -- or boo a rival -- when appropriate.
Trump has done something different and used the booing to his own advantage by saying that the audience is filled with donors (the RNC claims otherwise) and emphasizing that he alone is refusing to take any money. But it's true that he does not have the establishment on his side --- the establishment that doles out all those tickets to party functionaries --- so when he points out that the boos are coming from partisans he's not all wrong. And the "news" networks are participating in a bit of theatre by not sharing the reality of the audience participation strategy with the TV audience. It does color the impression of the event.

I'm surprised Trump hasn't demanded an equal number of seats to give to his yahoos. Seems like something he would do.

.