In retaliation against the Democratic National Committee for refusing to allow them to televise and host any Democratic Party primary debates or presumably actual presidential debates Trump responded in a tweet “Democrats just blocked @FoxNews from holding a debate. Good, then I think I’ll do the same thing with the Fake News Networks and the Radical Left Democrats in the General Election debates!” on Wednesday.”
The Democrats, of course, would be justified in doing this even if Jane Mayer in The New Yorker didn’t just reveal that Trump was given at least two questions before the debate Fox News hosted. Mayer also wrote that after the Wall Street Journal broke a story about Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels Oliver Darcy, a senior media reporter for CNN, published a piece revealing that Fox had killed a Stormy Daniels story.
Regardless of the tawdry details of these specific instances of Fox News favoring Trump, and I suspect there are many more that have not been revealed considering the number of calls Trump has with their personalities, it is obvious Fox News has become Trump’s personal propaganda machine. It is ludicrous on the face of it that they should be allowed to host either a Democratic Primary debate or a presidential debate.
There are no problems with the Democratic primary debates. Between CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, and PBS there are real news outlets who will be hosting them.
If there is a Republican primary it will be interesting to see if whoever runs against Trump is willing to participate in a debate if Fox News is the host. They may very well refuse to do so, and who could blame them? This would leave Trump no choice but to debate an empty podium on Fox News or go to a debate on one of the networks he has condemned as fake news.
This leaves us with the actual presidential debates. If the Democrats call what may be a presidential Twitter bluff and he refuses to participate in a non-Fox News hosted debate what would happen. If Trump dug in his heels and said, in whatever inimitable self-aggrandizing way we’ve become used to, that he didn’t need to debate this leaves us with a situation where for the first time since the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon race that there will be no presidential debate.
Let’s take this even further. Say candidate Trump refuses to be interviewed on any network he deems to be fake news. This could leave him only able to preach to the Fox News choir.
Even if the Democratic party candidates in the primary, and for president, whether by choice or not, ended up not giving interviews on Fox News, they would still have all the other networks clamoring to interview them.
This brings me to the Equal Time Law which specifies that U.S. radio and television broadcast stations must provide an equivalent opportunity to any opposing political candidates who request it. If a station provides a given amount of time to a candidate in prime time, it must do the same for another candidate who requests it, at the same price if applicable. The crucial part of the law is that to be granted equal time a candidate must request it. If Trump didn’t do so, the Democratic candidate could have all the time they wanted.
Debates are both informative and entertaining, and they often reveal sides of a candidate that doesn’t come out in softball interviews. They demonstrate how candidates respond when under the stress of sharing the stage with their opponent. For example, we saw Trump looming over Hillary Clinton trying to intimidate her with his sheer physicality. That should have been an early warning to the electorate that he was a bully who did not have the disposition to be president.
As we review the list of potential Democratic candidates we all must speculate about how they would handle an unrestrained Trump in a debate. Some would make mincemeat out of him. they’d chew him up and spit him out. Others would “merely” expose him with varying degrees of subtlety as the ignorant and arrogant blowhard he is. There are some potential candidates who would filet him like he’s a fish and others would symbolically depants him, exposing him as the emperor with no clothes.
I’d certainly miss seeing any of the pairings with the declared and likely candidates against Trump. However, if such a series of debates never comes to pass, voters will still get to know the eventual Democratic candidate through the long primary season.
If Trump opts out despite his lashing out at the Democrats blaming them for the ridiculous reason that they refused to debate on Fox News, a network even their less than brain-dead viewers know could never be fair to Democrats. Ultimately Trump will be blamed for being the president who cheated the country out of being able to see the presidential candidates debate each other.
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