ABC News’ Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire on Saturday night should be a doozy. Donald Trump is reportedly attending after skipping last week’s Fox News Debate in Iowa. It will also be the first time Trump faces off with Ted Cruz since accusing the Texas Senator of stealing a victory in the Iowa Caucus.
But, did ABC News already do something that Fox News boss Roger Ailes refused by giving in to Trump’s debate-related demands?
A few weeks ago, ABC cut ties with the New Hampshire Union Leader, a local paper that was supposed to have minor role in the network’s GOP debate. The Union Leader also played a minor role in ABC’s Democratic presidential debate last December and an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap that the relationship became strained as a result.
According to the insider, the Union Leader wasn’t a good partner so ABC weighed the pros and cons and decided to move on. Trump seems to have been a factor, as ABC wants to treat every candidate fairly and it’s can’t be objective if a partner blatantly attacks one candidate the way the Union Leader was attacking Trump.
The individual with knowledge of the situation also told TheWrap that the paper “brings nothing to the table editorially” when it comes to producing a debate. It appears ABC simply wanted to end its relationship with the paper to avoid unnecessary drama, but according to Trump’s Twitter account it was all his idea. Trump even claimed he “had Union Leader removed” from ABC’s debate.
Everyone remembers the spectacle of Trump threatening to skip Fox News’ debate if Megyn Kelly was a moderator. Ailes famously had his employee’s back, issuing a sarcastic statement directed at Trump to take attention off Kelly. The result was Kelly moderating, Trump skipping the debate, and losing Iowa. Trump has since mentioned that skipping the debate probably cost him votes. This series of events dominated the news cycle leading up to the Fox News debate.
Did ABC cave to Trump’s demands, while Fox News and Ailes refused? Or was ABC simply being, as Trump put it, “professional” by ending its relationship with the paper?
One thing is certain: ABC’s debate will be moderated by David Muir and Martha Raddatz. Luckily for the network, Trump does not appear to have beef with either of them.