The Republican National Committee (RNC) would consider cutting out major television networks unless reforms to the presidential debate process are adopted, Citizens United President David Bossie said Friday.
“We don’t need to count on just the networks,” Bossie said during radio bit with conservative host Hugh Hewitt. “There are so many opportunities out there, so many platforms out there that we can go to and partner with to get the message out.”
He mentioned that while the RNC is still mapping out debate planning for the 2024 election cycle, the Republican party is looking into potentially structuring its primary debates differently. During the interview, he noted that Republicans have complained and grown weary of seemingly biased moderators controlling the direction, tone, and narrative in favor of certain participants during past debates.
Fox News commentator Chris Wallace received criticism from Republicans for his performance as moderator during the first presidential debate, which featured incumbent President Trump and then Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Those dissatisfied with the way he conducted the event accused him of throwing hard-ball questions at the former president and providing too much leeway to the Democratic front-runner.
Bossie is helping lead the RNC debate reform initiative, and suggested that he wants to avoid recruiting moderators that aren’t neutral and balanced.
“We have to not allow bad actors to infiltrate our debate process,” he said, referring to “moderators who aren’t really trying to ask questions to make the candidates front and center.”
“They’re asking questions really not to impact primary Republican voters, but to have ‘gotcha’ questions and answers for the general election debate, because they all want to see their question and answer played during the general election,” he continued.
Historically, the Democratic and Republican parties have collaborated with major television news networks to organize and host primary debates, while the general election debate is orchestrated by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD).
Bossie’s comments come after RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel issued a letter to the CPD, which hosts the presidential debate, stating that the RNC will advise future presidential nominee against participating in debates until modifications to the process are made. In the document, she condemned the organization, stating that “the CPD’s repeated missteps and the partisan actions of its Board Members make clear that the organization no longer provides the fair and impartial forum for presidential debates which the law requires and the American people deserve.”
The RNC is calling for major reforms to the way general election debates are conducted, including moderator selection and protocol. It also demands changes to the way the CPD operates, and has proposed term limits for CPD members.
“We do need a neutral body to host the presidential debates,” Bossie said Friday. “Whether we can work with them and help fix the system, or have to turn to another entity, is still yet to be determined.”