As part of CBS’ coverage of tonight’s Republican presidential debate, the network will offer extended pre-debate and post-debate coverage on CBSN, the streaming news network. “There’s a ton of freedom with the format,” said CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes, who will anchor CBSN’s coverage from the debate venue in South Carolina. “We can ask each other questions. We can pop in a great guest at the last minute. We can play a two minute debate exchange! All of which I’m sure you’ll see (tonight).”
CBSN, which launched in November 2014, has allowed CBS News to use its journalists in entirely new ways, and expose their reporting to viewers–often young viewers–who prefer to watch via mobile. “It’s a great outlet for all the reporting that we can’t squeeze on to CBS This Morning and Evening News,” Cordes told TVNewser.
Cordes, who will anchor CBSN’s pre-debate coverage starting at 6 p.m. ET, and post-debate coverage immediately following the debate’s conclusion, at 11 p.m. ET., was one of the journalists who covered Donald Trump’s visit to Laredo, Texas last August when he first talked about building his wall.
Six months later, Trump has won the New Hampshire primary and has set his sights on a run for the Republican nomination. “He said and did things right from the start that have doomed other presidential bids, and so the assumption was that those things would doom him too,” said Cordes. “We quickly learned that that assumption was false.”
As Trump’s campaign has proven resistant to collapse, other GOP candidates who had hoped to rise to the top have instead fallen out of the race, including Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee and Lindsey Graham.
As the huge GOP field has thinned, the “undercard” debates have ended, and tonight’s debate will likely allow the candidates to engage each other beyond strict time limits. “I think in the beginning of the election cycle, it was important to establish some rules of the road that all candidates had to respect. Otherwise, the people who shout the loudest would have dominated the debate. And on the Republican side, where you had so many candidates, it was the only way to make sure you heard from everyone,” Cordes said.
“Now that both the Republican and Democratic fields are smaller, it’s nice to open things up and give the candidates a chance for more back and forth. I think those conversations, if moderated well, end up giving the viewers a more nuanced understanding of the differences between the candidates.”
There will surely be plenty to talk about after the South Carolina debate, and Cordes even has an idea of who might make a good on-air partner for her CBSN post-game coverage. “I might even have to ask Senator Lindsey Graham to co-anchor with me for a while. Now that would be interesting.”