It’s complicated: Here’s why Trump is ditching the Fox News GOP debate

It’s complicated: Here’s why Trump is ditching the Fox News GOP debate

Former President Donald Trump announced this week that he would be skipping the first GOP debate for an interview with ex-Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

A Saturday report by The New York Times'Jonathan Swan, Jeremy W. Peters and Maggie Haberman offers insight into what led to the 2024 MAGA hopeful's decision to ditch the debate hosted by Fox News.

Per the report, the right-wing network's executives like President Jay Wallace and Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Scott have both recently met with Trump for dinner "hoping to persuade Mr. Trump to attend the debate."

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However, the former president "was keeping them guessing," and "even as he behaved as if he was listening to entreaties, Mr. Trump was proceeding with a plan for his own counterprogramming to the debate," The Times reports.

The Times notes "Trump has tried to use his leverage to get friendlier coverage" from the right-wing network, telling Wallace and Scott over dinner that "he was skeptical that" Fox Corporation owner Rupert "Murdoch — whom Mr. Trump has known for decades — was not dictating the daytime political coverage that the former president found egregious."

Trump's choice to skip the debate for a conversation with Carlson — Swan, Peters and Haberman report — "is a potential source of aggravation for the Republican National Committee chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, who privately urged him to attend, including in her own visit to Bedminster last month."

However, the former president's "primary motive in skipping the debate is not personal animosity toward Ms. McDaniel but a crass political calculation: He doesn't want to risk his giant lead in a Republican race that some close to him believe he must win to stay out of prison," according to the report.

READ MORE: RNC chair warns Trump not to mess with GOP debates

The Timesreports:

In 2016, Fox did not know until the last minute possible that he was not going to show up. And even once the debate started, the hosts and producers were bracing for the possibility that he might arrive in the middle of the broadcast and demand to be allowed on the stage.

The Times also notes:

Mr. Trump's relationship with Fox — a long-running saga that has been both lucrative and, more recently, extremely costly for the network — is the other issue that looms large in his thinking about the debate, people close to him said.

His professed hatred of Fox — and the animus he often privately expresses about the chairman of Fox Corporation, Rupert Murdoch — is mixed with his recognition of Mr. Murdoch's power and a grudging acknowledgment that the network can still affect his image with Republican voters.

According to the report, Trump wrote on Truth Social earlier this week, "Why doesn't Fox and Friends show all of the Polls where I am beating Biden, by a lot. Also, they purposely show the absolutely worst pictures of me, especially the big 'orange' one with my chin pulled way back. They think they are getting away with something, they're not."

READ MORE: 'No, I love Trump more!' Candidates mocked ahead of first GOP debate

The New York Times' full report is available at this link (subscription required).

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