Posts tagged with "Fox News"

Fox News to air DeSantis vs. Newsom debate on November 30

November 28, 2023

They aren’t running against each other. Still, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) will take their fiery feud to Fox News this week in a debate moderated by Sean Hannity—offering up a head-to-head that stretches the boundaries of traditional political programming, reports The Wall Street Journal.

After trading barbs in the media for more than a year over issues from COVID-era restrictions to immigration, DeSantis and Newsom are scheduled to face off for 90 minutes on Thursday, November 30, in Georgia.

In an interview with the Journal, Hannity—who came up with the idea—described Newsom and DeSantis as “two of the biggest, most interesting governors in the country and they have diametrically opposed political views, visions for how to run their states.”

Fox News and other cable networks air plenty of debates and town halls featuring candidates. Because Newsom and DeSantis aren’t running for the same job, the November 30 event is more akin to cable’s version of an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout for politicians—taking an interesting fight happening outside the core election race and putting a spotlight on it.

Just weeks ago, Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination, debated Representative Ro Khanna (D- California) in New Hampshire. The debate covered topics including the economy, foreign affairs and climate change.

The two-person debate format comes in contrast with recent Republican primary debates, which featured a crowded field of candidates—but not the front-runner for the nomination, Donald Trump, who chose not to attend.

“Trump is very present by his absence in these debates,” said Jane Hall, a professor in the School of Communication at American University and the author of “Politics and the Media: Intersections and New Directions.”

DeSantis, who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination, has struggled to portray himself as a viable alternative to former President Donald Trump and is seeing former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley gain traction. Recent polls in Iowa—the first state to vote in the nomination battle—have shown DeSantis slightly ahead of Haley for second place, both well behind Trump.

For Newsom, the debate offers a chance to further establish himself as a leader of the Democratic Party on a national stage and position himself as a legitimate contender for the presidency down the line.

“It’s a chance to get a lot of viewership,” Hall said. “There’s an entertainment value in seeing people go after each other.”

In July, Hannity, a mainstay of Fox News’s prime-time lineup and the ratings leader in his time slot, held a town hall with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is now running for president as an Independent. He also said he would be eager to have more Democrats on his show.

Joe Biden, he’s at the top of the list. Kamala Harris, number two; Barack Obama’s number three,” said Hannity, who hasn’t asked any of them recently to appear on his show. “The odds of that happening are zero, zero, and zero.”

Research contact: @WSJ

GOP’s plan to fund Israeli war with IRS cuts raises questions

November 1, 2023

A Republican plan to fund an aid package to Israel via cuts to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) budget has sparked a debate among politicians, experts, and commentators, reports Newsweek.

Under the leadership of new House speaker Mike Johnson, the U.S. House of Representatives seeks to provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel by cutting funding to the revenue service for the United States federal government—which is responsible for collecting U.S. federal taxesusing some of the increased funding earmarked for it through President Joe Biden‘s Inflation Reduction Act.

Responding, some have raised concerns that Republicans are using the aid as a political opportunity to cut funding to the IRS. Typically, Congress doesn’t cut funding elsewhere to make room for emergency aid or spending.

Indeed, under Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the agency’s funding was boosted by $80 billion to improve taxpayer services and pay for more enforcement actions against wealthy tax cheats. But, due to Republican opposition, Biden and House Republicans agreed to repeal roughly $20 billion of that $80 billion as part of a deal in May.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement accusing Republicans of “politicizing national security” and calling their bill a non-starter.

Meanwhile, Rosa DeLauro, the ranking Democratic representative on the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement: “House Republicans are setting a dangerous precedent by suggesting that protecting national security or responding to natural disasters is contingent upon cuts to other programs.”

Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement, “Support for defending Israel should not come with conditions…When your neighbor’s house is on fire, you don’t haggle over the price of the garden hose,” she wrote.

Meanwhile,  Biden initially had requested the House pass a $106 billion package that would include aid for Israel, Ukraine, and border security.

Johnson, who voted against aid for Ukraine before he was elected House speaker last week, had said he wanted aid to Israel and Ukraine to be handled separately. He has said he wants more accountability for money that has been sent to Kyiv and that supporting Israel in the aftermath of the Hamas attack on October 7 should be the U.S.’s top security priority.

“I understand their priority is to bulk up the IRS, but I think if you put this to the American people and they weigh the two needs, I think they’re going to say standing with Israel and protecting the innocent over there is in our national interest and is a more immediate need than IRS agents,” Johnson said in a Fox News interview.

At an event on Monday at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center, Senator Mitch McConnell urged support for Ukraine.

“Right now, loud voices on both sides of the aisle are suggesting that American Fleadership isn’t worth the cost. Some say our support for Ukraine comes at the expense of more important priorities, but as I’ve said every time I’ve got the chance, it’s a false choice,” he said. “America is a global superpower with global interests, and enemies of democracy around the world like nothing more than to outlast our resolve to resist Russian aggression.”

The House Rules Committee is expected to consider the Republican Israel bill on Wednesday, November 1. It will need bipartisan support to become law.

Research contact: @Newsweek

Dog owner notices markings on pet’s chest that resemble the pup himself

September 28, 2023

A dog owner noticed an unusual marking on her pup’s chest—and it looked eerily familiar, reports Fox News.

Fran Dickson and her Schnauzer-Bichon mix dog named Murph live in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. After Dickson found an unusual spotting on Murph’s fur coat, she took him to the groomer.

Dickson told Jam Press that, while Murph needed a good grooming, she wasn’t expecting to see an uncanny self-portrait on his torso when she picked him up.

“He was very matted and knotty. The groomer had to shave really closely all over,” she said. Dickson recalls that she “burst out laughing” when she saw the result.

Unable to contain her excitement, Dickson immediately showed off Murph’s “new look” to her daughter and husband .

Dickson now has shared the pup’s self-made masterpiece with the world—sensing that Murph would “revel in all the attention.”

Pet lovers everywhere were just as amused as she was by the resemblance of the mark to the pooch. Indeed, Dickson’s Facebook post was filled with reactions from her friends, as well as funny comments about the moment. One user called it a “murph mark,” while another said that on his chest was a “tattoo of himself.”

Research contact: @FoxNews

Winners and losers of the first GOP debate, according to ‘The Hill’

August 25, 2023

A stormy Republican clash in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, August 23, kicked off the 2024 presidential debate season—even if the biggest name wasn’t on the stage, reports The Hill.

Former President Trump’s decision not to participate in the Fox News debate at Fiserv Forum overshadowed the event and likely lowered its ratings, the political website opined.

Trump did not entirely cede the spotlight, though, The Hill sad: His conversation with Tucker Carlson went live on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, five minutes before the debate began.

Trump will be back center stage Thursday, when he surrenders to authorities in Georgia, facing his fourth criminal indictment.

The Milwaukee debate gave his rivals a rare opportunity to reach a huge audience without the former president directly intervening or interrupting.

Here are the candidates whom The Hill identifies as the winners and losers from the big night:


Former Vice President Mike Pence: Pence had struggled to qualify for the debate, taking a conspicuously long time to get over the required threshold of donors.

But he was the surprise winner on Wednesday night, with a number of forceful interventions, The Hill said.

He also got an unexpected assist in the shape of a question to all the candidates about his actions on January 6, 2021. Several rivals paid tribute, albeit with varying degrees of enthusiasm, to Pence’s actions certifying the result of the 2020 election and withstanding Trump’s pressure to overturn it.

At other moments, Pence’s fieriness—especially when directed at Vivek Ramaswamy—was the most startling element of the night. Early on, Pence took a clear swipe at the 38-year-old Ramaswamy, saying, “Now is not the time for on-the-job training. We don’t need to bring in a rookie.”

Pence was also effective in reminding anti-abortion voters of his long record on that topic, quoting Biblical scripture to back up his position.

Pence faces enormous challenges in the primary—not least, unfavorable numbers with GOP voters that are higher than almost any other candidate. But Wednesday was the best night of his campaign to date.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Christie got in the cleanest shot of the night, soon after Ramaswamy boasted that he was the only candidate on the stage “not bought and paid for.” An exasperated Christie jabbed back, “I’ve had enough already tonight of a guy who sounds like ChatGPT.”

With that line, Christie may have found the weak spot in Ramaswamy’s armor, just as he did when he attacked Florida Senator Marco Rubio in a similar debate almost eight years ago.

Christie also emphasized his differences with Trump, of course. He is the most aggressively anti-Trump candidate in the race—a fact which, by itself, almost certainly dooms him to defeat.

Speaking of Trump’s multiple indictments, Christie said that whether people believed the former president’s actions were criminal or not, “Someone has got to stop normalizing this conduct, OK?”

A huge swath of the GOP base will hate what Christie had to say. But in terms of debating skill, his was probably the most impressive performance on the stage.

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley

Perceptions of debates can often be determined by memorable moments. By that standard, Haley had a good night.

She staked out different ground than her rivals on abortion—expressing skepticism about a federal ban at an early stage of pregnancy and about the role of Supreme Court justices in deciding “something this personal.”

She starkly branded Trump “the most disliked politician in America” to make the argument that the GOP cannot win with him as its standard bearer.

ut her single biggest moment came in a blast at Ramaswamy over the entrepreneur’s deep skepticism about funding for Ukraine.

Referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, she told Ramaswamy, “This guy is a murderer, and you are choosing a murderer over a pro-American country.”

When Ramaswamy tried to defend himself, Haley poured more pressure on: “You have no foreign policy experience — and it shows,” she told him.


Vivek Ramaswamy

It seems near-certain that Ramaswamy is the candidate whose performance will most divide opinion.

According to a report by Fox News, Ramaswamy introduced himself as a “skinny guy with a funny last name” after receiving his first question from moderator Bret Baier in Milwaukee on Wednesday. The phrase echoed Obama’s own choice of words when he introduced himself to the country while delivering the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.

“So, first let me just address a question that’s on everybody’s mind at home tonight Who the heck is this skinny guy with a funny last name and what the heck is he doing in the middle of this debate stage?” Ramaswamy joked, echoing Obama almost word-for-word.

Despite that, it’s easy to see why his supporters could make the case that he shone, The Hill noted. He’s clearly different, he withstood some heavy verbal blows and he offers a candidacy uniquely in step with the sensibilities of a new, younger generation.

The degree to which Ramaswamy was targeted by other candidates is also a backhanded compliment to the threat he poses.

But the entrepreneur also seemed shallow at times, especially on Ukraine and in his craven promise to pardon Trump of any convictions if elected president.

There is also a question mark around his overall demeanor. The traits that his fans see as confidence and clarity can just as easily read as self-satisfaction and glibness.

Ramaswamy might get a polling boost simply from being able to introduce himself to such a large audience.

But his weaknesses were badly exposed as well.


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

DeSantis arrived in Milwaukee needing a big night. He didn’t get it. It wasn’t that the Florida governor made any obvious gaffes. But he didn’t have any great moments either and; more importantly, he didn’t impose himself on the debate at any point.

For long stretches, DeSantis faded into the background of the debate.That is a big problem, since his whole campaign is predicated on being the sole alternative to Trump.

DeSantis’s campaign has been trending downward since its beginning and there was no real reason to believe that Wednesday night’s performance, which often sounded over-rehearsed, changed that.

Senator Tim Scott (South Carolina)

The Republican field already has an identifiable second tier behind Trump, DeSantis, and the rising Ramaswamy. It comprises Pence, Haley, and Scott.

Scott had the least impressive night of the trio. The South Carolina senator is well-liked by many Republicans but his low-key affability isn’t ideal for contentious debate nights.

Scott tried to stay above the fray, at one point intervening in a Christie-Ramaswamy verbal tussle to insist: “Going back and forth being childish is not helpful to the American people.”

But for the most part, Scott simply lacked impact.

He was also eclipsed by Haley, which is dangerous for him. Given their similarities—including a shared, electorally crucial home-state—there likely isn’t enough room for both candidates to thrive in the long run.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson

It was always going to be a tough night for the two lowest-polling candidates, stuck on the farthest edges of the stage, reports The Hill. Neither got a breakout moment.

The greatest excitement relating to Burgum was whether he would make the stage at all, having suffered a basketball injury earlier in the day that required a hospital visit.

Hutchinson made his usual Trump criticisms— even saying that the 14th Amendment may bar the former president from running again, given its injunction against anyone holding office who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.”

He was met with boos for those remarks.

Still, the biggest question Burgum and Hutchinson face is how to make themselves relevant. Neither found the answer Wednesday, contends The Hill.

 Research contact: @thehill

Pence super PAC launches Iowa ad attacking Trump as an ‘apologist for thugs and dictators’

July 11, 2023

A super PAC aligned with former Vice President Mike Pence has launched a new ad in Iowa accusing former President Donald Trump of “being an apologist for thugs and dictators,” reports the Des Moines Register.

The ad, launched on Thursday, July 6, by Committed to America, a group backing Pence, features clips of Trump shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“America doesn’t stand with thugs and dictators. We confront them,” a narrator says in the ad as the footage of Trump plays. “Or at least we used to.”

SuppCommitted to America is spending $150,000 to run the ad statewide in Iowa on Fox News and digital platforms for ten days, Communications Strategist Michael Ricci said in an email.

Asked about the ad by reporters on Thursday evening, Pence said “I never had any illusions about Vladimir Putin.” He pointed to the 2016 vice presidential debate, when he called Putin a “small and bullying leader.”

“The president had his own approach to dealing with some of these dictators around the world, and I’ll leave him to defend that,” Pence said.

Trump has faced criticism for calling Putin’s invasion of Ukraine “genius” and “pretty savvy.”

Pence went on to praise the Trump-Pence administration’s record on military matters—arguing he’d take on authoritarian leaders as president.

“If I have the privilege of being president of the United States I’m going to continue to take the same tough stand on the likes of Putin and Xi and others,” Pence said. “But it all begins with renewing American strength and making sure we have a military fitted to the times and that the world knows that we’ll defend our people and that we’ll defend our interests around the world.”

Pence has separated himself from Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in the 2024 presidential race by pledging to support Ukraine’s military in the war against Russia. Last week, he visited Ukraine and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

DeSantis has said supporting Ukraine is not vital to U.S. interests.

“While I have a difference with the former president, and frankly with other candidates in this field, I think it’s absolutely essential as leader of the free world that we continue to give the Ukrainian military the support they need to repel the Russian invasion,” Pence said. “If Vladimir Putin were able to overrun Ukraine, I have no doubt that someday soon he would cross a NATO border that we would be required to send our armed forces into harm’s way to defend.”

He added that he believes “China’s watching all of this very closely.”

Pence trails both Trump DeSantis in polling of the 2024 Republican presidential primary race.

Pence wrapped up a three-day campaign swing through western Iowa on Thursday, where he marched in a 4th of July parade in Urbandale and took questions from Iowans in Boone, Sioux Center, Le Mars, Sioux City, Holstein, and Neola.

Trump is set to hold a rally in Council Bluffs on Friday.

Research contact: @DesMoinesRegister

Submersible used for tourist visits to Titanic wreckage goes missing in the Atlantic

June 20, 2023

A rescue mission is underway after a vessel used to take tourists to see the underwater wreck of the Titanic went missing in the Atlantic Ocean on Monday, June 19, reports Fox News.

The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed to Fox News that they were currently searching for a lost submersible. Tourists can charter the small craft for visits to the infamous ship through OceanGate Expeditions, which recently announced new mission crews for a North Atlantic trip on social media.

The Coast Guard says there are five people on board, comprising one crew member and four “mission specialists.” They are currently conducting an air search for the vehicle, as it is designed to surface automatically if there are technical issues.

OceanGate announced on Twitter earlier in June that it was relying on Elon Musk’s Starlink—a constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites that provide Internet and communications connections— during the expedition. It is not clear whether communications played any role in the submersible going missing.

OceanGate charges tourists $250,000 for a spot on its expeditions to the Titanic wreckage. The company has yet to comment on the disappearance, and it could not immediately be contacted due to a surge of Internet traffic crashing the company’s website on Monday.

The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage from England to New York City.

Research contact: @FoxNews

Tucker Carlson is making a comeback on Elon Musk’s Twitter—purportedly, without $25M in severance

May 11, 2023

Tucker Carlson is back. Well, almost. The former Fox News host, who parted ways with the network last month, announced in a video on Tuesday, May 9, that he would relaunch his show on Elon Musk’s Twitter, reports Fortune Magazine.

“Starting soon, we’ll be bringing a new version of the show we’ve been doing for the last six and a half years to Twitter. We’ll be bringing some other things too, which we’ll tell you about. But for now, we’re just grateful to be here,” Carlson said, looking directly into the camera.

In the three-minute video, he characterized Twitter as the last platform dedicated to free speech—echoing Musk’s own proclaimed allegiance to the idea. 

“Speech is the fundamental prerequisite for democracy. That’s why it was enshrined in the first of our Constitutional amendments,” Carlson said. “Amazingly, as of tonight, there are not that many platforms left that allow free speech. The last big one remaining…is Twitter, where we are now.”

Carlson will reportedly forgo a severance of at least $25 million from Fox to instead produce his new Twitter show, according to Dylan Byers, a reporter at Puck News.


Fox News announced in April that Carlson—well-known right-wing face of prime-time show Tucker Carlson Tonight since 2016—no longer would be employed by the network.

The sudden announcement came days after Fox agreed to settle a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million over false claims that it had manipulated voting in the 2020 presidential election against Donald Trump. Carlson had been among those at the network who spread those false claims on air while privately dismissing them.

In the video he posted on Tuesday, Carlson criticized mainstream media as untrustworthy. “At the most basic level, the information you consume is a lie. A lie of the stealthiest and most insidious kind,” he said.

It’s unclear when Carlson’s new “show” on Twitter will debut.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

A Kansas man and his team mow lawns for free—restoring dignity to those down on their luck

May 8, 2023

A Kansas man is making a difference in the lives of others in his community with the help of a truck, a team, a lawn mower—and a big heart, reports Fox News.

When Spencer B. (last name withheld), the owner of SB Mowing, sees a lawn that needs some care, he stops his truck, knocks on the homeowner’s door, and offers to take care of the lawn for free. That includes mowing, edging and using a blower to clear sidewalks and walkways.

Spencer, who is based in Wichita, has been in lawn care for 12 years—and he’s committed to spending some of his time by helping others at no charge.

“I started with my buddy mowing lawns in the neighborhood in sixth grade,” the 24-year-old told Fox News in an interview. “We would push our lawn mower down the street and go knock on some doors and get our jobs that way.”

The young entrepreneur, who married his girlfriend last year, kept growing the company throughout high school and college.

“This helped pay for my college,” he noted, saying he would drive home on weekends to take care of his clients’ lawns.

About a year-and-a-half ago, Spencer B. saw a few lawn professionals in videos mowing lawns for free. “That’s pretty cool, I thought — maybe I can start a YouTube channel and do this once a week,” he said.

“So,” he said, “I got out and I tried it.”

He bought a tripod for his iPhone in order to shoot the videos—and began knocking on the doors of homes whose yards looked like the homeowners could use a hand.

After his first couple of YouTube videos, “I was getting a lot of response,” he said of the online feedback. Today, he has over 1 million followers on his YouTube channel.

“Usually with lawn care, the people’s doors I knock on—most of the time they say ‘yes,’ because it’s someone that’s unable to mow their lawn. And it’s been that way for a really long time,” he said.

“If they were to pay someone to do it, it’s going to cost them a few hundred bucks at least. And it’s either that or wait for the city to come out and fine them a whole bunch of money on their property taxes,” he added.

People are usually really surprised, he said—and they’re even “kind of confused.”

He often gets asked, “Why would you do this for free?”

He said he explains to the homeowner or renter that he makes YouTube videos of his work and that he makes revenue from the ads placed on his videos.

He tells the homeowners, “I can completely transform your yard—completely free,” he explained.

Some of these homeowners go on to sign up with SB Mowing as clients, paying “whatever they can afford,” he said.

Around Wichita, you “don’t have to go too far” to see a lawn that needs help, he added.

“The edges are covering the sidewalk and are all the way over the curb, the grass is three feet tall—I try to go out as much as I can every week.”

Noting that he is able to take care of several lawns a week for free—with some harder jobs taking several days—Spencer B. said that it returns a sense of dignity to the people within the homes.

“The number-one thing that people tell me when I get finished is, ‘Oh my gosh, it doesn’t even look like my house anymore,’” he noted.

“It just completely changes the look of the entire hom — the grass and the yard [are] the very, very first thing people see when they pull up to a house.”

Noting that the yard is also the first thing homeowners see when they look out their own window, “it makes them feel good about themselves, and where they live.”

There have been a lot of emotional reactions since he’s started knocking on doors, he said.

One gentleman, a veteran, was “coming on some rough times,” Spencer B. said.

He and his SB Mowing team “came together real quick” and did the veteran’s lawn and “raised some money for him and got him back on his feet,” raising $10,000 through a GoFundMe.

People are “so thankful,” he also said.

Most people are “shocked” by how long he stays working at the home. “I’ll be there from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and some take several days to finish,” he said.

SB Mowing has a few different revenue streams. Along with profit from his regular business, Spencer B. offers merchandise, including hats and T-shirts, online, and he receives revenue from ads placed in his videos.

He’s also sponsored by a lawn mower manufacturer, Hustler Mowers. “They give me a nice mower to cut the yards down with,” he said.

Spencer B. will be cutting lawns and improving yards—and lives—for the foreseeable future, he said. “Right now, it’s my career. You never know how long you’re able to do something,” he said. “I might get hurt one day. You never know, it’s a very physical job.”

He added, “One day, people might stop watching my videos, which is totally OK—I might have to tone it back and get a job elsewhere!”

Research contact: @FoxNews

Trump is likely to sit out one or both of first two GOP debates

May 4, 2023

In private comments to aides and confidants, former President Donald Trump has indicated he does not want to breathe life into his Republican challengers by sharing a debate stage with them, reports The New York Times.

Trump is likely to skip at least one of the first two debates of the 2024 Republican presidential nominating contest, according to five people who have discussed the matter with the former president.

Last month, the chairperson of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, announced that Fox News would host the first G.O.P. primary debate in Milwaukee in August. The second debate will be held in Southern California at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

While the former president maintains warm relationships with several prime-time hosts—especially Sean Hannity, a reliable Trump booster—Trump’s overall relationship with Rupert Murdoch’s television network has deteriorated as the network showered DeSantis with praise over the past two years while constricting its coverage of Trump.

Trump also has mentioned his previous skirmish with the former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly in his private conversations with associates as a reason not to agree to a debate hosted by the network.

In the first Republican debate of the 2016 campaign cycle, Kelly asked Trump about demeaning things he’d said about women. Trump viewed this as a declaration of war from Fox News’ management. He later attacked Kelly in crude and sexist terms.

What’s more, Trump has led his nearest rival, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, by around 30 percentage points in recent polls. All other contenders are polling in single digits.

“I’m up by too many points,” one associate who spoke with Trump recalled him saying.

One adviser stressed that the situation was fluid, particularly given how early it remains in the 2024 race and with DeSantis not yet even a declared candidate. Trump may find it hard to stay away from a stage where others are criticizing him, and some senior Republicans expect that he will ultimately join the debates. He has long credited the debates in the 2016 campaign, both in the primary and the general election, for his victories.

Still, if Trump opts out of some primary campaign debates—as he did once before in 2016—he will shrink the viewing audience and limit his rivals’ chances to seize a breakout moment on the debate stage. The visibility such moments offer is hard to come by in a race in which Trump almost monopolizes the news media’s attention.

For Trump, denying his low-polling rivals access to a massive television audience is part of his calculations in potentially skipping the debates, according to the people who have discussed the matter with him. In 2015, Fox News drew an audience of 24 million for the first primary debate of the 2016 campaign. It was, at the time, the biggest viewership for a non-sports event in cable television history.

“In his mind there’s not enough candidates who are polling close enough to him,” said a person familiar with Trump’s thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations with the former president. “And that, if he does a debate this early with candidates who are polling in the single digits, there’s no upside for him.”

Another motivation for Trump is revenge: The former president has a history with the two institutions hosting the first two Republican candidate debates.

Trump has told advisers that the second debate is a nonstarter for him because it will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The chairman of the library’s board of trustees, Frederick J. Ryan Jr., also serves as the publisher and chief executive officer of The Washington Post, a fact that Trump regularly brings up.

Trump is also sour that the Reagan library has invited numerous other leading Republicans to speak at its events over the past two years, including his presidential rival DeSantis—but has never extended an invitation to him, according to two people familiar with his thinking.

Research contact: @nytimes