Former President Donald Trump will skip the first GOP primary debate next week and opt for an interview with Tucker Carlson instead, as the conservative media personality’s former employer, Fox News, hosts the debate, the New York Times reported, citing sources—a move that will cost Fox viewers as both Carlson and Trump have a complicated history with the network.
Trump reportedly made the decision to skip Wednesday’s debate in Milwaukee over the past 24 hours, after suggesting for months he wouldn’t attend and verbally polling crowds at campaign rallies about what he should do.
He will instead participate in an online interview with Carlson, according to the Times, which notes that the exact timing and platform have yet to be solidified.
The decision comes after Trump questioned on Truth Social late Thursday why he would participate in the debate given his strong polling lead.
What To Watch For
The debate, coordinated by the Republican National Committee, is slated to air Wednesday night from Milwaukee. Eight candidates, including Trump, have met the minimum requirement for polling results and donors, but only five have signed the Republican National Committee’s required loyalty pledge to support whoever the GOP nominee is. Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had not signed the pledge as of Thursday.
“Many people are asking whether or not I will be doing the DEBATES?” Trump wrote Thursday on Truth Social. “ALL AMERICANS have been clamoring for a President of extremely High Intelligence . . . People know my Record, one of the BEST EVER, so why would I Debate? I’M YOUR MAN. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
Trump has been dissatisfied with Fox News’ coverage of him since his 2020 election loss, but appeared to be patching things up with the network and its executives recently, hosting Fox News president Jay Wallace and chief executive Suzanne Scott for dinner in Bedminster, New Jersey, earlier this month, where they lobbied him to attend the debate, the Times reported. He also returned to the network for an interview with host Sean Hannity in March after a several-month hiatus. But in recent days, Trump has reprised his criticism of the network, accusing the network Wednesday on Truth Social of highlighting polls that showed other candidates gaining steam. Carlson, meanwhile, was fired after incendiary commentary he made was publicized in court papers in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion lawsuit against the network, and after a former producer sued Fox, alleging harassment and retaliation while working on Carlson’s show. Carlson is reportedly taking steps to form a new media company with ex-White House advisor Neil Patel and has begun hosting a new show on Twitter.
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