UPDATE, 1:04 pm: CNN just announced they will be live-streaming this debate. Original post below.
I started with a simple enough question: How do I watch the October 13 Democratic debate on CNN? And I wound up learning the answer to so many more questions I didn't know I had. Among those answers: Sheryl Crow, virtual reality, Las Vegas, and maybe Joe Biden or maybe not.
Crazily, CNN itself seems to be offering no information about whether they will live-stream the debate, as they did with the Republicans last month, or whether they'll shunt it over to cable-only like Fox did with their debate. Mashable is the only site reporting that CNN will be live-streaming like last time; and I'm guessing that's accurate since the GOP debate was their highest rated show ever. And also because oh my GOD this debate is going to be nuts and the whole world really needs to be able to see it unfold in real time.
The most insane detail is that even though CNN has no information about whether it will stream live video of the debate, the station is boasting loudly that viewers will be able to watch it in virtual reality.
Yes. That's right. CNN is broadcasting a VR stream of an event where old people stand at podiums and talk. The event is happening at the Wynn in Las Vegas, and is literally the most visually boring show in the entire city. Precisely the kind of immersive experience that realizes the promise of the Holodeck.
The only requirements to watch the VR stream: a Samsung phone and a virtual reality helmet, both of which are owned by approximately equal portions of the population. Jason Farkas, a CNN producer, is quoted as saying "We're really pushing the envelope here." Yes, I suppose you are, in a junk mail sort of way—you get the envelope in the mail and then toss it in the trash, muttering, "Why would anybody want this?"
Political debates are exclusively made by, watched by, and star a bunch of old people. Is this CNN's way of making debates relevant to a younger demographic? If that's their goal, they'd be better off hiring some hot pop star to show up at the debate instead.
Oh no wait. They also attempted that. But their hot pop star is Sheryl Crow. She'll be singing the national anthem and an "opening number," whatever the hell that means. Alas, she probably will not be allowed to stick around for a duet with Hillary.
You can also look forward to awkward foot-in-mouther Don Lemon fielding questions from Facebook, so that's sure to go smoothly.
Another fun wildcard: Joe Biden will maybe be at the debate. Or maybe not. He hasn't decided. And he has until the day before to make up his mind. A surprise appearance by Joe Biden would be quite the show-stealer, eating up lots of attention that had previously been devoted to Bernie and Hillary and those other guys.
Oh, right, the other guys. Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee will also be warming podiums during the debate. They are all polling below one percent, so this will be an excellent opportunity for everyone around the country to say "Who is this? I bought an Oculus Rift to look at a bunch of old guys nobody's heard of? What happened to Sheryl Crow?"
There are five more Democratic debates after this. Can't wait to see Sarah McLachlan perform as a hologram at the next one.