Donald Trump has rejected the Republican campaigns’ joint effort to negotiate the terms of the GOP debate format with the major media networks, insisting he will negotiate independently.
It is a brazen–and brilliant–move, one that demonstrates the difference between politics-as-usual and the bold reform Trump is promising his supporters.
ABC News released a draft list of the other campaigns’ demands. It is rather underwhelming–a demand for petty guarantees, such as a promise that moderators will not ask the candidates to raise their hands in answer to questions. It is a list, sadly, that validates Democrats’ mockery, which had painted the Republican candidates as “whiners.”
Trump is not just demanding changes in camera angles. He is proposing that debates no longer be the intellectual property of the mainstream media–that they become “open source” content, run by political parties for the benefit of the public, and not by the mainstream media, with any proceeds of advertising donated to charitable causes.
So while the other campaigns are haggling over marginalia, Trump is bidding on an entirely different deal. He has the leverage to pull it off, because he brings the ratings to the show. But the real genius of the idea is the way he proposes to re-frame primary debates, not just improve them.
It is a pitch aimed beyond politicians, at the public.