Picture this: It’s summer, and the Republican presidential candidates are gathered on stage for their first presidential primary debate of 2024. Who’s moderating? The most unlikely duo: CNN’s AndersonCooper and Newsmax’s Greg Kelly.

It’s not an impossible scenario, according to two recent reports on the Republican National Committee’s plans for the 2024 presidential primary debates. On Wednesday, as the RNC met to discuss what form the first debate would take, Semafor said reported that the committee is “considering pairing mainstream media with conservative media as co-moderators, a regular feature of the 2016 debates as well, to address member concerns about bias.” Editor-in-chief of Semafor Ben Smith half joking conceived Possibilities on Twitter: “Looking forward to Breitbart/NBC News debate.”

The move follows that of last week New York Times report on discussions between RNC officials and television networks – including CNN – about sponsoring a primary debate. “Party officials are also in talks with executives from ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News, as well as more niche networks like Newsmax and NewsNation,” according to the Times, who noted that the networks are expected to submit proposals in February. “We cast a wide net to engage with interested and qualified organizations, although not every entity that submits a proposal receives a debate,” the RNC chair said. Ronna McDaniel say it Times. The RNC’s request for proposal — which Semafor called “the first of its kind” on Wednesday — includes “a section for networks to complete to determine if they would be open to partnerships.”

The first talks follow the GOP’s disappointing midterm performance in 2022, as both the Times and notes Semafor. It was a moment of looking in the mirror for Republicans on multiple fronts, including messaging, because while some Republicans who have chilled the mainstream media have found success (Florida Governor Ron DeSantis), others have lost a lot (Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano). “There are a lot of Republicans who consume their information only from the big networks,” David Bossiethe chairman of the GOP Presidential Debates Committee — who, along with McDaniel, leads conversations with television executives — told the Times. Bossie also noted that Republicans remain “incredibly skeptical that our presidential candidates can be fairly rattled by what we view as biased mainstream media.”

It’s a talking point the RNC pushed hard last spring, when, after months of threats to blow up the presidential debate process, they “voted unanimously” to step down from the Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonpartisan organization that organized debates on the general elections. for more than three decades. At the time, McDaniel accused the CPD of being “biased”, saying in a statement that the party would “find new and better platforms for debate”. The RNC has since continued to boycott the commission, which, Times note, does not participate in the primary debates.

Either way, it’s hard to imagine every Republican candidate will be open to the potential partnerships the RNC might be discussing, especially when the 2024 field is still unclear. donald trump, who has been attacking the media for years, is the only Republican so far to announce he is running in 2024, although a number of high-profile figures are considered likely candidates, including DeSantis. The Governor of Florida, as TimesMichel Grynbaum wrote earlier this month, took Trump’s media playbook to a new level in his re-election campaign last year by avoiding nonpartisan media altogether, giving in-depth interviews only to those in right. Still, it’s not clear that DeSantis’ approach will work nationally. “Dating back to 2016, Trump was most effective when he was anti-media, but he still talked to anyone,” as Alex Conanta former aide to the Florida senator marco rubiosay it Times. Trump in 2016 “was getting his message out on CNN and MSNBC every day, even though part of his message was that the media is terrible.”

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