Former President Donald Trump is threatening to skip the first Republican debate. Why? Because one of the debate sponsors, Fox News, has skipped Trump’s recent campaign events.
Trump noted that Fox did not feature Trump’s recent speeches in Washington, D.C. and Michigan, but “then wants me to show up and get them ratings for their ‘Presidential’ Debate, where I’m leading the field by 40 points,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “Sorry FoxNews, life doesn’t work that way!!!”
Donald Trump knows TV relies on him
Trump has a point in that he is a ratings machine.
While perhaps hesitant to admit as much, news outlets love Trump.
No one generates as much “news,” or gives the average American as much reason to track the news regularly, as Donald Trump. Part of the reason Trump has been so successfully, and so resilient, comes from the fact that news outlets (many of whom implicitly indicate that they despise Trump) go out of their way to keep Trump around.
CNN, MSNBC, and the like. They benefit from Trump to the point of dependency.
Really, you could argue that some news outlets have constructed a business model that revolves exclusively around one person. I’m not an MBA but I don’t think it’s best business practice to put your eggs in one basket, especially when the basket is an obese 77-year-old.
Fox was something of an exception, however, in that they have at times worked to minimize Trump coverage in accordance with the political wishes of Rupert Murdoch.
Trump has noticed the neglect, Trump doesn’t appreciate the neglect, and Trump knows that his decision to join the first debate will make or break the event with respect to public interest (see television ratings).
Will Trump debate?
Trump’s threats could just be hot air.
It’s hard to imagine Donald Trump skipping the opportunity to be front and center, under the lights, on a nationally televised stage. He’s a glutton for attention and few moments generate the attention of a presidential-election-year debate.
Plus, GOP primary opponents are goading Trump into joining. Chris Christie, who Trump shares a complicated history with, in particular is pushing Trump to enter the debate.
“If Trump doesn’t want to debate then he doesn’t want to be president,” Christie tweeted Monday.
Trump’s first Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, believes Trump will ultimately enter the debate. “I think it’ll happen, Priebus said on ABC’s “This Week,” adding that the nation is engulfed in “middle finger politics…the world of WrestleMania politics, the world where, you know, attention is what everyone is seeking in order to get support.” That’s absolutely correct. And who is better than Trump at getting the attention that everyone is seeking in order to get support? No one.
GOP primary candidates should be more cautious about inviting Trump into a debate. People like Christie want to get Trump on stage so that Trump’s rampant flaws can be exposed under the bright lights. But it doesn’t seem to work that way. Trump has a knack for turning things around on his opponent and he has a knack for devolving previously civilized events.
Trump also has an uncanny ability to discredit his opponent’s entire personas with witty and well-timed dismissals – a talent that a debate is well suited for facilitating. Point is Trump opponents should be careful about debating Trump, who is less about debating and more about mudslinging.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.