Fox News Infuriates Media With Insane Rule On GOP Debate

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

We’ve already gotten word that Fox News is begging Trump to show up to the Republican primary debate which the news organization is hosting.

“Former President Trump had dinner Tuesday with top executives at Fox News who asked him to consider attending the first Republican primary debate later this month, according to a new report,” The Hill reported.

The dinner, which The New York Times reported took place at Trump’s Bedminster, N.J., Golf Club, was with Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and network President Jay Wallace. Prime-time anchor Sean Hannity was also reportedly supposed to attend the dinner but was busy hosting his 9 p.m. show.

Scott and Wallace reportedly made an overture to Trump telling him attending the event, which Fox will broadcast Aug. 23 from Milwaukee, could present an opportunity for the former president to show his debate skills. The Times story noted people close to Trump have separately warned the former president in recent weeks that not showing up to the first debate could allow another candidate to perform well.

Trump hasn’t yet pledged to participate in the first debate, citing his commanding lead over the other GOP primary contenders and his alleged “hostile” relationship with Fox.

Now Fox has added an insane rule about the debate.

Following the publication of contentious guidelines for the handling of footage from its next GOP debate by outside sources, Fox News is creating a fuss. A document made public on Thursday states that video clips of the debate cannot be longer than three minutes and, more seriously, they are altogether forbidden after seven days.

Many Republicans were understandably incensed by that and questioned what on earth Fox News was really attempting to accomplish.

Chris Stigall observes that this is absurd. Political discussions are typically viewed as topics of general interest, with no restrictions on how they might be covered. There should be no doubt that what this is, is Fox News, which is sponsoring the debate, attempting to stifle debate analysis by outright prohibiting the use of video beyond seven days. No other political debate, regardless of whose network owns the broadcasting rights, has ever been subject to that requirement.

For instance, this would entirely shut down websites that stream political discussions live and provide real-time analysis. Additionally, it would be challenging for news organizations, to convey the more contentious confrontations that continue longer than three minutes as candidates verbally contend with their opponents. Even worse, it appears that we would be unable to cover the argument at all beyond seven days. What will Fox do if an outlet does? Do we begin to receive copyright complaints for articles that are still up on websites after 7 days and have the video clips in them? It’s really an insane rule.

Fox News is already losing by doing this. What does the broadcaster stand to gain by limiting accessibility to its broadcast in the days following the debate, which millions of people will undoubtedly watch? One method to gain further attention is for footage to become popular online over the next weeks. But Fox doesn’t seem to want this to happen. It defies logic, really.

The enforceability of such limitations is another unresolved subject. The Republican National Convention, a political organization, is hosting these debates, which are claimed to be Republican debates. Did Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel provide her OK for Fox News to limit the debate’s audience? If not, will she intervene and make an effort to resolve this situation?

In any case, the candidates who really show up are the ones who need to be the most furious about this. Primary debates have historically had a significant impact on candidates’ funding and support. After the discussion is over, having broad dissemination is one way to make it happen. By prohibiting the sharing of debate videos after seven days, Fox News is depriving them of this.

On Wednesday, Trump told Newsmax’s Eric Bolling that he would not sign a loyalty pledge to the Republican Party that he will support whoever wins the presidential nomination of the party.

“I wouldn’t sign the pledge,” Trump declared. “Why would I sign a pledge if there are people on there that I wouldn’t have?”

“I wouldn’t have certain people as, you know, somebody that I endorse. So they want you to sign a pledge. I can name three or four people that I wouldn’t support for president. So right there, there’s a problem right there. There’s a problem.”

“You look at the debate, and they want you to debate, but you’re debating — it’s not really fair — somebody like Asa Hutchinson, who’s polling at zero percent, will ask me nasty questions. Somebody like Chris Christie is falling at 1%, and he’s going to ask me nasty questions and others, too.”

“Why would you do that when you’re leading by so much?” Trump queried. “Ronald Reagan didn’t do it. Nixon didn’t do it. Many people didn’t do it.”

Trump finished by saying that he’s “going to look at it very seriously. I’d like to do it. I’ve actually gotten very good marks on debating talents. But you want to be, you know, they want a smart president. They want somebody that’s going to be smart. So we have to do the smart thing.”


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