If you're actually paying attention to the ongoing Republican presidential debates (I think we're at around 234 of them now) you've probably noticed how the uptick in TV production values impinges on their import.
Take, for example, Tuesday night's CNN event at Constitution Hall in Washington. If you were there or watching CNN on your computer you saw what's called "the warm-up." This is when the debate producer and moderator, in this case Wolf Blitzer, take the stage before the actual broadcast and talk to the live audience.
A producer gins the crowd with applause lines, says he'll be in the corner of the stage signaling when to applaud when the telecast starts and so on. The moderator says things such as "we're going to have a good, serious, substantive discussion" and/or mentions how many cameras there are and that audience members can watch a replay later and possibly even "see yourself on television," which Mr. Blitzer (or, as Herman Cain calls him, "Blitz") declared to be "pretty cool."
When the broadcast opens, there's big music, historic video clips, a barritone narrator proclaiming the high importance of being president and then the beauty-contest parade of contestants striding one by one across the stage, smiling and waving, to breathless introductions from "Blitz" in his very best "let's-get-ready-to-ruuummmble" voice. Then comes some soulful rendition of the National Anthem by an actor from "Jersey Boys."