Austin, my current hometown, was host last night to the kind of event which gets national coverage. This time, 43,436 people tried to attend the event but only a hundred of them got selected. There were also 400 tickets for around 18,000 UT students who had entered the lottery.
The "post-game analysis" makes it sound like a match between two sports teams.
Interestingly enough, it's a mixed sport, making it easy for journalists to use pronouns to distinguish players in the two teams. One source described the night's event as possible end game for the team led by a woman:
After losing a string of contests to [him] over the last several weeks, she is running neck-and-neck with him in Texas, according to some polls, a state in which she previously had a commanding lead.
One might think it was a fashion show:
the gold piping on her raised black collar and pockets gave her a martial, commander-in-chief look (the very model of a modern major general)
But I also get the impression that it was a theater premiere, with one source describing one actor's "classic 'I-feel-your-pain' finale" meant to go to watchers' "heads and hearts."
In the end, the event was mostly "media event." By the media, for the media, of the media.
Most likely, it won't change the dynamic of this race, though the true effect of it will be determined by the media coverage around it: Should it get replayed over and over on television, it just may have an impact on this race and could stand out as the debate's most striking moment.
So, I'm a bit puzzled by the whole thing.