Jannah Theme License is not validated, Go to the theme options page to validate the license, You need a single license for each domain name.

With Debate Deal, Trump and Biden set aside a historic campaign institution

The agreement reached by President Biden and Donald J. Trump to advance in two presidential debates — and sideline the Commission on Presidential Debates — is a debilitating and potentially fatal blow to an institution that was once a major arbiter of presidential policy.

But the roots of the commission’s decline go back at least a decade and came to a head in 2020, when the commission struggled to hold a debate with Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden during the pandemic.

The first meeting between the candidates that year was caustic and noisy, as Mr. Trump shouted about Mr. Biden and the moderator. “I’m a pro: I’ve never experienced anything like this,” moderator Chris Wallace said.

It later emerged that Mr Trump had been diagnosed with Covid days before the event, prompting strong objections from the Biden campaign to the commission. The second debate was canceled by Mr. Trump after the commission sought to make it virtual because Mr. Trump was recovering from his illness. During the third debate, the committee gave the moderator a mute button to cut off a candidate who was breaking the rules.

But even before that, the commission found itself in a difficult political situation. Anita Dunn, a longtime senior adviser to Mr. Biden, helped write a 2015 report calling for updating the debates for a modern media environment. Mr. Trump has accused the nonpartisan commission, created by leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties in 1987, of bias toward Democrats. The Republican National Committee announced in 2022 that it would not work with the commission.

“Campaigns have always wanted to take over the debates for themselves,” said Alan Schroeder, professor emeritus at the Northeastern University School of Journalism in Boston, who has written several books about presidential debates. “They have been trying to eliminate the commission for years. So we’re back to the future with this and to a future that didn’t work out very well.

Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., who as Republican Party chairman helped create the commission and now serves as its co-chair, said in an interview that he was stunned by the election campaigns’ decision to bypass the organization – and skeptical about how it might work.

“I would love to be a fly on the wall when the campaigns start coming together to look at the details of this,” he said. “Who sits where, who is the moderator, who is there, where are these people. We were created to do all of this.

Indeed, the commission was created to insert a bipartisan, empowered negotiator into the planning, covering issues such as the choice of moderator, the number of guests each campaign could bring into the studio and the height of the lecterns behind which the candidates stood.

It succeeded the League of Women Voters, which had overseen the debates for a decade and had been criticized for its lack of success in handling the demands of campaign workers jockeying for advantage. In 1984, the campaigns of Ronald Reagan, the Republican president, and Walter F. Mondale, his Democratic challenger, vetoed the names of 100 journalists proposed as speakers on the panel.

“The problem was that the league didn’t have much leverage against the campaign, so the campaigns tended to run roughshod over them when it came to details about the format, the schedule, whether there would be a live audience,” said M. » said Schröder.

The commission set aside practices that had evolved since the first televised presidential debates, in 1960, between Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy. Question panels, which made it more difficult to concentrate on a topic or allowed follow-up, were replaced by a single moderator. The commission decided who could participate and where the debates would be held, and ensured that they were televised on all major networks.

The locations, dates and focus of the debate – whether foreign policy or domestic issues – were announced well in advance, with the aim of making it more difficult for the campaign to attempt influence. on the rules of the game.

“I’m a fan of the commission,” said Gibbs Knotts, a political science professor at the College of Charleston. “They have a consistent record of good work. It’s unfortunate if this has to be reinvested in the countryside; there will be more strategic calculations and less overall calculations about what is in the best interest of the American public.”

Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden were quick to agree on the dates and networks sponsoring the debates, but difficult negotiations lie ahead. Mr. Biden wants debates without an audience and with microphones that automatically cut off when a speaker exceeds his allotted time. It is unclear whether Mr. Trump agreed to these terms.

It is also undecided whether the debate would be broadcast exclusively on the host network or shared with other broadcasters and streamers. One of the sponsors, ABC, said it would also allow other networks to broadcast the proceedings; CNN, at least initially, said no.

To viewers, there may be no obvious difference between a debate organized by a commission and one brokered by candidates and a network.

“A debate is a live program. There is no script. Because, as history has shown us time and time again, debates have a mind of their own and take on a life of their own,” Mr. Schroeder said.

Despite years of discontent, Mr. Fahrenkopf said Wednesday that the commission had been caught off guard by Mr. Biden’s proposal. “We had no idea,” he said. But he said he hoped the campaigns, after considering the difficulty of these negotiations, would ultimately allow the commission to step in and run the show.

“We’re ready to go,” he said.

Michael M. Grynbaum reports contributed.

News Source : www.nytimes.com
Gn usa

Back to top button