Who’ll write “the economics of CNNs extremely, extremely ****ing banal pundit panel”. Surely, there must be a reason for it?
Except he spelt out the entire word.
The goal is to keep people on the same channel, by whatever means possible. The true end of the debate event means the TV will be turned off or the channel switched. It’s not like the old days when on Saturday night the people who wanted to see “Mary Tyler Moore Show” then wanted to watch Bob Newhart afterwards. There is no real sequel to these “debates,” or at least no appropriate sequel which can be enacted with the aid of a television.
So they will do everything possible to stretch out the event. Furthermore, the viewers actually want to talk to each other about the debates, so the continuation should be something which does not command too much viewer attention. No Evil Knievel. The panel is a signal of “now is the focal time to make fun of these guys with the other people on your sofa,” don’t stop, keep up the jokes guys, and the panel members, perhaps unintentionally, try to stretch out that period of your witty mockery for as long as possible. Which isn’t that long, but hey they have to try.