Both before and after yesterday’s Vice Presidential debate, a slew of political insiders made appearances across the major cable news networks to discuss expectations and ultimately performance. Among those was former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The politician stopped by both MSNBC and Fox News, but rather than talking about the substance of his comments, many social media users instead focused on something else. He wore a mask on MSNBC but did not wear one on Fox News. Well, it turns out it wasn’t completely his choice.
Following some of the online chatter, Scott Walker took to Twitter to let users know there was more at play than just a personal preference. Apparently each of the channels has different rules. He also pointed to former Presidential Candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg as someone else who did the exact same thing. You can check out his tweet below…
What exactly the rules are is unclear. There are certainly people appearing on MSNBC without masks, but I would imagine a lot of it has to do with how the segment is filmed, whether the speaker is an employee of the company and whether those involved with the production feel they can do it safely. As a viewer, it’s a little odd to seem someone wearing a mask on live television, but then again, it was also odd to see people in masks at the grocery store until that eventually just seemed normal.
Beyond the more direct personal safety issue, there is also obviously a bit of viewer messaging in play here. It likely wasn’t a surprise to many that Kamala Harris’ husband Doug Emhoff wore a mask when he embraced the Vice Presidential candidate following the debate last night, whereas Mike Pence’s wife Karen Pence did not. As such, it follows the same line of thought that MSNBC would be a bit more likely to fall on the side of more mask usage, whereas Fox News would be more likely to fall on the side of less mask usage.
Regardless, the coming month will be a huge time for the cable news networks. Even Americans who are only casually interested in politics will be interacting with the news cycle a lot more often until the election, and the actual night itself of political returns should net huge ratings for Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and everyone else. Whether or not viewers decide which network to tune into based on whether people involved are wearing masks is unclear at this point.
As for further debates and debate analysis, there is one scheduled for next week, but at this point, it’s unclear whether that will happen. The Debate Commission announced it would hold the event remotely, but President Trump has said he wants to do it in person or he will not attend. That preference is made all the more complicated by his bout with Covid-19, a virus that more generally has had a massive effect on entertainment production in general.