How TV Reporters View This Year's Unpredictable Presidential Race
"This is bigger than Donald Trump, this is bigger than Hillary Clinton, this is bigger than the contests that they're waging," 'CBS This Morning' host Norah O'Donnell said at Wednesday night's celebration of THR's New York issue.
New York City's most powerful news anchors have spent months covering the 2016 presidential campaign and, gathered at The Hollywood Reporter's 35 Most Powerful People in New York Media event on Wednesday night, many seemed to agree: They've never seen anything like the current race for the White House.
CBS This Morning host Norah O'Donnell, who noted that she's covered numerous elections and been on the road with candidates, said this campaign is like nothing she's ever seen — with potentially historic consequences.
"I think Bob Schieffer really said it best … this is not about the frontrunners being disrupted in this presidential primary. This election is interesting because it might witness the breakup of the two political parties," said O'Donnell. "This is bigger than Donald Trump, this is bigger than Hillary Clinton, this is bigger than the contests that they're waging. There's a real fight going on for the heart and soul of the Republican party, for the heart and soul of the Democratic party. I've seen over time as I've covered politics that fewer and fewer people identify themselves as Democrats and Republicans. They're independents. Nobody wants to live by a label anymore, right? Nobody wants to be labeled, and I think that's happening now in politics and I think there's a real breaking point for the political parties."
O'Donnell's CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose added, "It's been the most unpredictable political year," singling out Trump and Bernie Sanders' success and Clinton facing a competitive Sanders in the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination as surprising moments.
"It shows you where there are all kinds of conflicting issues and analyses of America," added Rose. "It speaks something to a recognition of people's hopes and aspirations and disappointments."
NBC Nightly News' Lester Holt seemed to agree, saying, "Nothing has gone as the pundits thought it would at the beginning of this cycle. The only constant is surprise in this election."
Holt said he couldn't pick one moment as the craziest or weirdest one, a response initially echoed by CNN's Dana Bash before she zoomed in on one viral moment from the presidential debates: Trump referring to Marco Rubio's criticism of his hands and suggesting that his Republican opponent was criticizing the size of another part of his anatomy and said, "I guarantee you there's no problem."
Bash recalled that after Trump said that, he "came out to the spin room, where I was, and was talking more about his hands, and I had to ask him about the fact that he probably made American and possibly world history by being the first person to talk about the size of his hands at a presidential debate, and then proceeded to have to ask Mrs. Trump about that very issue because she was standing right there ... not something I ever planned to do in school."
Speaking of Trump, TV personality Bethenny Frankel had her own wild moment with the GOP frontrunner.
"The weirdest, craziest moment for me in this presidential campaign is when I did the walk of shame directly into Donald Trump at 7:45 in the morning," she said. "Makeup down my face. Jewelry in my glass.
"Hi, Mr. Trump, when you run the country one day, remember my walk of shame in your lobby," Frankel said she thought.