We’ve known for decades that the presidential debates process is biased against the Republicans. In fact, the Republican National Committee (RNC) withdrew from the Commission on Presidential Debates last year, precisely for this reason.
However, it is essential to distinguish between general election debates and GOP primary debates. The RNC has taken the responsibility of organizing its primary debates and establishing the terms, which sounds great for Republicans. But in the end, the debates have to be broadcast from somewhere, and the same biased legacy media that led the GOP to withdraw from the Commission all want to be a part of the Republican primary debates.
CNN, for example, is negotiating with the RNC to host a debate — and shame on them if they agree to it. Sure, it’s been nearly 12 years since CNN’s Candy Crowley falsely fact-checked Mitt Romney during a debate, but has the network given us any reason to trust them since? NBC News also wants to host a debate and have Lester Holt co-moderate it. Why would any bid from NBC or MSNBC even be entertained? Do you think we’ll ever see a Democrat primary debate hosted by Fox News? Meanwhile, ABC News, CBS News, and PBS all want to host debates.
But the bigger issue may be hosting a debate in which all the candidates will participate. According to Axios, Gov. Ron DeSantis has no love for CNN or MSNBC (and who can blame him?) and President Trump doesn’t trust Fox News. So, there’s a bit of a stalemate regarding the selection of hosts for the remaining GOP presidential debates in 2024. This deadlock has also cast doubt on whether these debates will take place at all.
During the past decade, most networks have collaborated with big tech to co-host debates. They often engage with local outlets, digital news companies, radio networks, or national newspapers to moderate the debates jointly. However, in the current scenario, Facebook and Twitter did not participate in the pitching process. But, why are we even talking about this?
The RNC has all the power here. This means that if there’s a debate moderated by a biased liberal from a biased liberal network, the only person to blame is RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel. Fox News is partnering with Rumble for the first debate, which is good, but there are other conservative networks, like Newsmax, that could broadcast a debate. And there are plenty of conservative outlets that have the resources to host a debate and present them to the target audience. We don’t need to rely on the mainstream media, which hates the GOP, to host their debates. This is an opportunity for the GOP to use the debates to help support conservative media.
The Republican Party must take this opportunity to redefine how debates are held. They have the power. If they’re still relying on legacy media to host debates, using moderators who aren’t going to be fair, then why go through the gesture of withdrawing from the Commission on Presidential Debates in the first place?