When Donald Trump tweeted his complaints about the scheduling of the presidential debates yesterday, a lot of people began to wonder if he may fear facing Secretary Clinton in a debate in front of a national audience. Some, like Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban, even predicted this might happen.
As usual, Hillary & the Dems are trying to rig the debates so 2 are up against major NFL games. Same as last time w/ Bernie. Unacceptable!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2016
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) July 28, 2016
As it turns out, RNC Chair Reince Priebus is catering to his candidate’s latest hissy fit. Appearing on “Face the Nation” today, Priebus called for a revamping of the debate schedule. Priebus also agreed that some of the dates chosen were a deliberate attempt to keep viewership low.
‘We’re not going to be having debates on Saturday or Sunday nights.’
Actually, none of the debates are scheduled for a Saturday and only one, the last debate, is scheduled for a Sunday. The dates currently scheduled are Monday, September 26; Tuesday, October 4; and Sunday, October 9.
The dates were chosen more than ten months ago. The Commission on Presidential Debates has scheduled the presidential and vice-presidential debates since 1988, and they are a private firm that is both bipartisan and non-profit.
Priebus stopped short of agreeing with Trump’s tweet saying the debates had been rigged in favor of Clinton; he also deflected questions about why the controversy over the debate schedule had not been challenged until now.
Priebus is piggy-backing off Trump’s assumption that the DNC does not want the debates to be seen by a wide audience, and Trump compared the schedule to what the DNC is accused of having done to Bernie Sanders: scheduling debates when they were least likely to be viewed on television. There are enormous differences between those debates and these, though, that Trump and Priebus are ignoring.
During the primary debates, the DNC did the scheduling, and we now have illegally hacked and leaked emails that make it fairly clear that the committee was biased against Senator Sanders. He was the lesser-known candidate, as would be most candidates running for the Democratic nomination against former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. There was also a much smaller percentage of Americans who knew his platforms and ideas, and scheduling those debates when few were likely to watch kept it that way. Sanders would have, without the internet, probably been as much of an unknown to the average voter as Jim Webb or Martin O’Malley was after the Democratic debates.
This is not the case with Donald Trump. Voters do know him; they’ve seen his endless and free media coverage since the day he announced his bid for the presidency and called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “drug dealers.” They also know him from his non-stop media presence before the campaigns began because of his reality television show and his insistence on telling anyone who would listen that our president was born in Kenya. They even knew him before that, when his failed marriages and endless rounds of adultery were tabloid fodder.
No one’s trying to hide Trump or his message or who he is; he’s made sure it’s already out there.
Furthermore, if the DNC feared that Sanders’ message and his platform would actually provide a viable alternative to the more mainstream Clinton, there is no fear of this in a Clinton/Trump debate. Secretary Clinton is highly knowledgeable on foreign affairs, especially after her time as Secretary of State, and her policies are refined and thought-out. Trump is as clueless about foreign affairs as Sarah Palin was, and his plans are nothing but right-wing rhetoric with no written agenda on how to carry them out.
Clinton could, quite easily, clean the floor with Trump in a debate.
Any debate schedule biased toward Clinton would include making it required viewing nationwide, not hiding it on a night when few might watch television.
See Priebus’s full response below:
Featured image screengrab via YouTube