Politico alumn Dylan Byers made his first appearance as senior reporter for media and politics for CNN on yesterday’s Reliable Sources.
In the opening exchange, Byers told host Brian Stelter that “it’s a privilege and pleasure to be your colleague.”
The two discussed the upcoming GOP debate, its ratings implications and the candidates’ performances.
Last month’s debate on Fox News reached an unprecedented 24 million viewers, more than the combined number of viewers who tuned in to Jon Stewart’s farewell broadcast (3.5 million viewers), the first GOP primary debate in 2011 (3.2 million viewers) and the most watched debate of 2011 (7.6 million viewers).
Byers has slightly less ambitious hopes for CNN’s Wednesday broadcast (between 18 million and 20 million viewers) but believes that the upcoming debate could match Fox’s numbers.
“Donald Trump obviously generates a lot of interest. We’re out of summer and into the fall,” said Byers. “I think more people are watching because of that.”
Byers also said that this debate is going to be put up or shut up time for candidates who have been fighting to keep their footholds in the polls.
Wednesday night will be a chance for candidates like Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, Scott Walker and Rand Paul “to prove why you are here,” “to demonstrate to the American people why you deserve to be here” and “to demonstrate why you shouldn’t be kicked off that stage,” said Byers.