In media news today, Associated Press tells staff to ‘avoid emphasizing COVID case counts, the Economic Council director urges the media to focus on wage increases instead of inflation, and the mainstream media drags Rand Paul for clashing with Dr. Fauci.
Liberals in the media are sounding the alarm over the Republican National Committee’s threat to boycott debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has organized the presidential and the vice-presidential debates for over three decades.
In a letter from the RNC to the CPD that Fox News obtained on Thursday, the committee said that it will require its presidential candidates running in the 2024 election cycle to pledge not to participate in debates run by the CPD.
If the RNC follows through with their pledge, it could likely lead to a massive shift in how presidential and vice presidential general election debates are conducted.
“The RNC has a duty to ensure that its future presidential nominees have the opportunity to debate their opponents on a level playing field,” RNC chair Ronna McDaniel writes in the letter. “So long as the CPD appears intent on stonewalling the meaningful reforms necessary to restore its credibility with the Republican Party as a fair and nonpartisan actor, the RNC will take every step to ensure that future Republican presidential nominees are given that opportunity elsewhere.”
Responding to the letter, the commission told Fox News that “the CPD deals directly with candidates for president and vice president who qualify for participation in the CPD’s general election debates. The CPD’s plans for 2024 will be based on fairness, neutrality and a firm commitment to help the American public learn about the candidates and the issues.”
Conservatives welcomed the RNC’s threat against the debate commission as critics on the right have long accused the institution of being outdated and having a political bias.
Several members of the media, however, saw the move as an act of cowardice from Republicans who cannot go head-to-head with the Democratic challenger.
“Are they afraid that their candidates can’t keep up?” Joy Behar of “The View” wondered.
“Another example of Republicans’ antipathy toward public institutions and civic processes leading them to just…walk away. Doesn’t bode well for accountability or transparency,” Bloomberg Opinion columnist Tim O’Brien wrote.
“I’m old enough to remember when presidential candidates tried to win by convincing voters they had the best ideas and plans,” Boston Globe writer Kimberly Atkins Stohr tweeted.
“The anti-democracy party hard at work…..requiring its presidential candidates to refuse to take part in….debates….” the Lincoln Project’s Joe Trippi swiped Republicans.
“The GOP is no longer a governing party and news outlets should stop using that term. They have given up all pretense of being a part of the Democratic process and only exist as a vehicle to restore Trump to power through violence or malfeasance,” MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson ranted.
CNN’s White House correspondent John Harwood blasted the move, saying “this would represent withdrawal from reality.”
Notably, Harwood previously moderated CNBC’s widely-panned GOP primary debate in 2015 that prompted the RNC from canceling its scheduled debates with NBC following a litany of overly-hostile questions for the candidates. The CPD has never had involvement in the presidential primary debates.
New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who initially broke the story, suggested the RNC’s threat is a preemptive measure and an indicator that former President Trump is set to run in 2024.
“A different read would be that Trump is running and he won’t debate if he’s the nominee,” Haberman tweeted.
Some are even panicking that the RNC’s challenge of the debate commission means the end of presidential debates altogether.
“It’s entirely possible that the 2024 presidential election simply won’t have a debate,” Bloomberg reporter Ryan Beckwith fretted.
“This may be the end of debates, as we have known them,” NPR political correspondent Domenico Montanaro similarly wrote.
“It’s hard to see general election debates happening without the Commission on Presidential Debates, which boasts GOP/Dem co-chairs and has overseen them for 30+ years,” Vanity Fair’s Michael Calderone tweeted.
The Commission on Presidential Debates faced intense backlash during the 2020 election cycle over the controversy of its second debate moderator, C-SPAN host Steve Scully, who appeared to have reached out to outspoken Trump foe Anthony Scaramucci on Twitter.
The exchange between Scully and Scaramucci fueled even more questions of the journalist’s credibility to fairly moderate a debate after critics previously highlighted his work as an intern for then Delaware Sen. Biden decades ago.
Scully initially claimed that his Twitter account was hacked but later admitted he lied. The “Washington Journal” host was suspended by C-SPAN and later parted ways with the network in June 2021
Questions linger regarding the mysterious hacking claim made by C-SPAN host Steve Scully.
The CPD was also slammed for unilaterally deciding to make the second debate virtual following Trump’s bout with the coronavirus without consulting either of the campaigns.
After Trump refused to partake in the virtual format, the CPD scrapped the second debate altogether.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser, Mark Meredith and Patrick Ward contributed to this report.