It looks like Republican presidential candidates may be debating this summer, even on CNN.
And Donald Trump may soon be back on Twitter, along with Facebook.
A lot of threats are made in politics. But when it comes down to crunch time, these have a way of fading. Face-time – and digital space-time – still has a pretty strong allure.
It’s one thing for possible contenders and strategists to run their mouths in the offseason, saying the television networks are so biased that Republican candidates couldn’t possibly allow them to be in charge.
But now comes word that the RNC is negotiating with the networks for the possibility of staging debates later this year.
David Bossie, who runs the RNC’s debate committee, told the New York Times he’s “incredibly skeptical that our presidential candidates can get a fair shake from what we consider the biased mainstream media.” But, he said, “There are plenty of Republicans who consume their news just from the major networks. That’s why we have a broader outreach.”
It’s not a done deal, but it sounds like more of a possibility than last year, when the GOP officially boycotted the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has been sponsoring these things since 1988. The Times says the RNC has also been talking to Fox News, the three broadcast networks, and some smaller conservative outlets, as well as CNN.
The Republicans apparently would boycott any debate with MSNBC, which they view as the 24-hour liberal opposition. Fox faced a similar problem when the DNC blew it off in the 2020 cycle, although the network managed to sponsor town halls with individual candidates.
Networks love debates because they have brought in big ratings in recent years and create news that everyone else has to follow. But let’s say CNN proposes a debate with Anderson Cooper, who Trump thinks has trashed him over the years.
Wouldn’t it be better for Trump to take him on, as he did with Megyn Kelly in Fox’s 2015 RNC debate? And would Ron DeSantis stay away out of pique or principle and cede the spotlight to his opponents?
Trump’s inevitable move to Twitter has been on the table since Elon Musk bought the place. Despite his insistence that Twitter has gotten boring, and he prefers his Truth Social, you know he’s just dying to return to his 88 million followers and grow that number.
Trump is legally obligated to post his original political content on Truth Social, but there’s nothing stopping him from reposting it on Twitter six hours later, which would put his messages into a far larger echo chamber.
NBC reports that Trump’s staff is planning for his return and even kicking around his first tweet.
In a letter to Facebook’s parent company Meta, Trump said his continued ban has “dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse.” Both platforms banned Trump after the Jan. 6 riot.
Trump may be trying to take credit for something that is coming down the pike. A Facebook spokesman said the company “will announce a decision in the coming weeks in line with the process we laid out.”
Meta has always said the ban would last two years and then be reviewed.
The election is not going to turn on tweets, Facebook posts or any single debate. And there will be angry spats along the way. But the idea that Republicans can build their own ecosystem and ignore the mainstream outlets seems a bit detached from reality.