OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Former President Donald Trump, now facing four indictments as the leading 2024 GOP presidential contender, is planning a cable news blitz as well as a sit-down interview with former Fox News star Tucker Carlson as a counter to the first Republican debate later this month, which Fox is moderating.
Sources close to the Trump campaign have reportedly told CNN that the ex-president and his advisors are engaged in discussions regarding potential counterprogramming strategies to divert attention from the upcoming Fox News debate in Milwaukee.
“Conversations regarding a potential interview with Carlson have taken place with Trump’s team, but there is no definitive plan for him to do that as of now, they say,” Alayna Treene reported. “Trump has privately and publicly floated skipping either one or both of the first two Republican presidential primary debates and has repeatedly pointed to his commanding lead in the polls as one reason he is hesitant to share the stage with his GOP challengers.”
Trump hasn’t done any debate prep, and one of Treene’s sources noted that he doesn’t need it. She added that “there’s always a chance he may ultimately decide to participate at the 11th hour.”
While it’s unclear if Fox News will allow this if Trump doesn’t show, his advisers are also reportedly interested in having the former president’s allies like Kari Lake and Florida GOP Congressmen Byron Donalds and Matt Gaetz attend the debate and work the spin room on his behalf.
For months, Trump has openly hinted that he won’t do the debate, even after Fox News president Jay Wallace and chief executive Suzanne Scott reportedly met with him and implored him to participate on August 23rd.
Trump last month suggested that he may sit down for a one-on-one interview with Carlson on the same night as the first Republican primary debate.
In addition to Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, Senator Tim Scott, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have qualified for the first debate.
A report from Vanity Fair claimed Trump is planning to counterprogram the GOP primary debate by appearing on Carlson’s popular Twitter show.
“The question, of course, is how a ratings-obsessed Trump would counterprogram a prime-time Fox debate that is sure to draw a significant cable news audience and feature such 2024 challengers as Ron DeSantis. One idea Trump is mulling is to sit for an interview with Tucker Carlson on his Twitter show at the same time as the debate, two sources briefed on the discussions said. According to one source, Trump recently reached out to Carlson and asked if Carlson would do the interview, but no decisions have been made,” Vanity Fair reported.
The outlet added:
A Trump-Tucker Twitter show—say that three times fast!—could benefit both Trump and Carlson. For Trump…Carlson would likely be a much friendlier interviewer than Fox’s chosen debate moderators, Bret Baier, and Martha MacCallum.
For Carlson, landing a Trump interview on the night of a Fox debate would demonstrate his growing conservative media power as he reportedly plans to launch his own streaming-based company. According to the source, investors have already told the ex-Fox anchor that they would contribute $100 million to his venture. Carlson and his business partner, Daily Caller co-founder Neil Patel, are currently reviewing trademarks to find an available name for the company, the source said.
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel issued a warning of sorts to Trump last week regarding his reported intention to skip the first GOP presidential debate next month.
In an appearance on Fox News, McDaniel said she believes it’ll be a “mistake” on his part if he doesn’t show up.