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Why Does 2016 Election Coverage Sometimes Sound Like Snippets From A War Documentary?

Throw in a sweeping soundtrack, and this election is ready to air on the History Channel

The 2016 presidential election is inarguably dramatic; there are high stakes, passionate voters, and giant cliffhangers waiting to be resolved at the conventions this summer. However, given that the chief weapons of this contest for power are insults and number crunching, it might be overkill to describe the presidential race like it’s something that Senator Chuck Grassley, the nation’s leading advocate for showing history on the History Channel, would actually want to watch.

Despite the 2016 race being neither history (yet) nor war (yet!), it is incredibly easy to find bloodthirsty coverage of the campaign that seems like it got lost on its way to the latest Ken Burns documentary. Close your eyes, turn on the "Ashokan Farewell," and listen to an especially brutal CNN broadcast from which you hear that "Ted Cruz started the month riding high in Iowa. Now, he just wants to get out of the state alive." It won’t be long before you’re certain that the 2016 presidential race happened decades ago and is now being aired on PBS, with Twitter bio photos getting subbed in for daguerreotypes — and Mary Chesnut just tweeting at Donald Trump the whole time. The fact that part of Hillary Clinton’s campaign already has a Morgan Freeman voice-over doesn’t help.

Either the campaign press is developing an overactive hive mind imagination thanks to extended exposure to the 2016 race, or it’s being mind-controlled by Ken Burns himself, who may already be trying to figure out how Donald Trump’s hair looks when rendered in sepia tones. You decide:

New York Post: "The circular firing squad is taking its toll. All the GOP guns are blazing — at each other."

New York Post: "Tuesday’s Republican primaries could set Donald Trump on a glide path to the nomination — or ensure a bloody state-by-state battle from now until June."

WNYC: "The Battle of Brooklyn Gets Bloody"

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Washington Examiner: "Election 2016 is beginning a casualty list of GOP presidential hopefuls."

BBC: "A civil war is brewing within the Republican ranks - and the bloodshed has only just begun."

CNN: "The sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia provided a rare moment of agreement among Republican presidential candidates at a debate that quickly fractured into the most bitter and vicious brawl of the 2016 cycle."

Time magazine: "Clinton’s rivals questioned her consistency and her character in a volley of attacks that left the former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady with few options but to laugh nervously at their intensity. Flanked by her two remaining rivals, she did her best to dodge any serious blows."

The New York Times: "There is no longer room for error or delay, the anti-Trump forces say, and without a flawlessly executed plan of attack, he could well become unstoppable."

The Atlantic: "Even as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz escalate their attacks on Donald Trump, next week’s cascade of Super Tuesday contests offers the GOP front-runner a unique opportunity to simultaneously weaken, and perhaps disable, his principal competitors on separate battlefields of a two-front war."

FiveThirtyEight: "But the truth is, if they want to thwart Trump, their only hope may be to coordinate a last-ditch, two-front assault on the front-runner."

Bangor Daily News: "And no matter who emerges from that mess — whether it is Donald Trump or anyone else — they will be mortally wounded, leading a party that has just ripped itself apart."

U.S. News & World Report: "But the truce was short-lived. Within weeks, Trump resumed his attacks on Kelly, going on Twitter to accuse her of stacking her show with guests who don't like him and calling her a ‘bimbo.’"

The Dallas Morning News: "Marco Rubio has hunkered down in Florida. The senator’s home state could be his last stand."

The Wall Street Journal: "A well-connected GOP operative is planning a ‘guerrilla campaign’ backed by secret donors to ‘defeat and destroy’ the celebrity businessman’s candidacy."

Politico: "The big, set-piece battle of the Republican primary is very nearly over – but the guerilla war against Donald Trump may have just begun."

CNN: "Ted Cruz started the month riding high in Iowa. Now, he just wants to get out of the state alive."

CNN: "If candidates fail to focus energy on sustaining and improving their polling numbers, they risk political death, when staying alive and getting to the next debate is the most important task."

The Trace: "The frontal attack by the 2012 Republican presidential nominee marked the most prominent sortie yet in an anti-insurgency effort building in desperate intensity."

Politico: "On Payback Thursday, the establishment mounted a serious counterattack that undercut Trump’s chances in November and pushed the party into open civil war."

CNN: "But the intra-party onslaught is raising fresh concerns that the eventual Republican nominee will head into the general election bruised and vulnerable."

The Associated Press: "Anyone worried that Republican Gov. Chris Christie was being held hostage by Donald Trump as he stood, seemingly shell-shocked, behind the GOP presidential front-runner on Super Tuesday can rest easy."

The Guardian: "Republicans turn to trench warfare in an inch-by-inch battle for the nomination"

Politico: "The Republican primary shifted to a new phase — trench warfare — as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz each won one state in Tuesday’s contests and dug in for an increasingly ugly battle that will now likely drag through the final primary in California, if not beyond."

The Washington Times: "An army of modern-day American revolutionaries descended upon Washington over the weekend, armed not with muskets and bayonets, but with Ted Cruz campaign buttons and pocketbook Constitutions."

Bill Clark/Roll Call

NBC News: "Her newfound opposition — after not taking a position on the issue for months — protects her left flank against Bernie Sanders's challenge."

Newsmax: "7 Shots Fired at Absentee Trump During GOP Debate"

Politico: "... the vanquished Republican operatives allied with Jeb Bush have shed their uniforms, collected as much ammo as they could carry, and taken to the hills to wage bitter guerrilla war against Donald Trump."