AP Photo/John Locher, File

CNN Schedules Two Debates No One Knows About

Let’s face it, the so-called Republican debates are nothing more than verbal dodgeball games being played by kids no one picked to be on their team. The only unique thing about them is that none of the remaining participants have the slightest chance of winning, yet all are better than Joe Biden. 

There is no need for any more debates, but if more are scheduled, the empty playground of any elementary school in America would be the perfect place. That said, the Communist News Network (CNN), thought they had a better idea. On Thursday evening they announced two additional debates but forgot to tell some key parties about them. 

Problem number one: the RNC is supposed to sanction all Republican debates. Which means they need to at least know about them for that process to begin. A detail that apparently slipped the executives minds at CNN, according to Politico: “The respective debates, set for Jan. 10 in Des Moines and Jan. 21 just outside Manchester, aren’t sanctioned by the RNC, which has organized the first four debates, including Wednesday night’s broadcast in Alabama. The campaigns have continuously complained about current RNC rules, which say a candidate who participates in an unsanctioned debate is barred from future RNC-approved gatherings. But the RNC’s debate committee is expected to meet Friday to discuss officially removing that rule, according to three people with knowledge of the group’s plans.”

That isn’t the only issue, it seems that the network also failed to inform one of the venues that they would be hosting a debate. That’s right: after making the announcement that they would be hosting the first debate of 2024 at Drake University in Des Moines on Jan. 10, they announced that a second one would be held on Jan. 21 at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire. However, Saint Anslem’s Neil Levesque, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm, released this statement: “We were surprised to be included on a press release by a network about a debate which we had not planned or booked.” 

Chris Ager, the Chairman of New Hampshire’s Republican Party was even more perplexed: “The CNN thing came out and everybody’s like, What the heck? I’m still scratching my head, and I still haven’t been contacted by CNN at all. For a big, professional organization like that, putting out a location on this date and the location doesn’t know — something’s not quite right.”

That’s not the only odd thing about CNN’s announcement. ABC is already scheduled to hold a debate on Jan.18 at the same location, St. Anslem. That date has the approval of both the college and state Republican officials. 

Ager explained: “We’ve been working for months planning with ABC. We’ve already done a run-through of the facility. We’ve agreed on a lot of the details.”

ABC is the traditional host of presidential debates in New Hampshire ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation primary. Its local station, WMUR-TV in Manchester, N.H., which is a co-host of the Jan. 18 debate, is New Hampshire’s only affiliate of the Big Three broadcast networks.

Ager went on to say that he also had concerns about CNN holding a debate just two days before the Jan. 23 primary, which he said would leave candidates little time to respond to any major moments onstage: “In New Hampshire, we like to give everybody a fair shot as much as possible,”

Yesterday, The RNC did meet and decided that four debates were enough and that they were going to “pause” their participation in any future events. The official statement read: 

The RNC’s decision, made by a 16-member internal body, means that any forthcoming debates will be hosted by networks independently of the committee. Two outlets — ABC and CNN — have announced plans to host future debates in Iowa and New Hampshire ahead of early state voting. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis already said he will attend CNN’s planned Iowa debate before next month’s caucuses and ABC’s planned New Hampshire debate.

“We have held four successful debates across the country with the most conservative partners in the history of a Republican primary. We have no RNC debates scheduled in January and any debates currently scheduled are not affiliated with the RNC.  It is now time for Republican primary voters to decide who will be our next President and candidates are free to use any forum or format to communicate to voters as they see fit.”

OK, so on Friday the RNC essentially released the candidates to do whatever they want as far as debates are concerned, without fear of penalty. As noted, Ron DeSantis almost immediately jumped on board, apparently thinking any exposure is better than no exposure, but is it? 

These things have become tedious at best. Having two of them within three days and three in less than two weeks may have the opposite effect on the party. There is also the concern that those hosted by CNN will prove to be nothing more than antagonistic smear events.

CNN is obviously anxious to hold these debates, so much so that they scheduled them without all the required boxes being checked. Those candidates who are considering attending them should reconsider. Very often less is more, especially when these may end up being nothing more than a turkey shoot.

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