TV networks prepare letter to Biden and Trump campaigns urging them to commit to 2024 election debates

By Hadas Gold, CNN

CNN  —  Five of the major US television networks have banded together to draft a letter urging President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump to commit to participating in televised debates ahead of the 2024 election.

According to a draft of the letter shared with CNN, which is also a signatory on the letter, NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox News and CNN urged the presumptive nominees “to publicly commit to participating in general election debates before November’s election.”

The television networks are seeking additional news organizations to sign the letter, which has not yet been sent to the campaigns, a person familiar with the matter said. The New York Times was first to report on the existence of the letter.

The letter, which has not been finalized, notes that general election debates have “played a vital role in every presidential election of the past 50 years, dating to 1976” with “tens of millions” tuning in to watch a competition of ideas for the votes of American citizens.

“Though it is too early for invitations to be extended to any candidates, it is not too early for candidates who expect to meet the eligibility criteria to publicly state their support for – and their intention to participate in – the Commission’s debates planned for this fall,” the letter states.

Frank Fahrenkopf, co-chair for the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, told CNN he has not yet seen the letter.

Biden has not publicly committed to debating Trump, although he has not ruled it out.

“It depends on his behavior,” Biden said in early March.

Trump has posted on social media that he will debate “anytime, anywhere anyplace” despite the Republican National Committee voting unanimously in 2022 to withdraw from the Commission on Presidential Debates.

While historically debates were confined to good-spirited discussions on public policy issues, Trump over the last two presidential cycles has deformed the tradition with uncontrolled outbursts and an avalanche of lies.

The presumptive Republican Party nominee has a proven track record of flagrantly violating debate rules and using the sizable national platform to lob nasty personal insults at his political opponents. His behavior became so unruly that in 2020 the commission took the extraordinary step of muting the microphones of Biden and Trump during portions of debates after Trump’s repeated outbursts caused the first debate to devolve into chaos.

Trump’s behavior and loose relationship with the facts have given Biden aides pause on whether it would be strategically wise to engage with him on such a platform.

“If there is one thing Americans can agree on during this polarized time, it is that the stakes of this election are exceptionally high,” the TV networks stated in the letter. “Amidst that backdrop, there is simply no substitute for the candidates debating with each other, and before the American people, their visions for the future of our nation.”

Related Articles

Back to top button