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Fox News Is Laying The Groundwork For Trump To Skip Out On Presidential Debates

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Fox News Is Laying The Groundwork For Trump To Skip Out On Presidential Debates


Published with permission from Media Matters.

Fox News figures are helping rationalize Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s threat that the 2016 presidential debates must have “fair” moderators or he won’t participate, pointing to Candy Crowley’s 2012 debate moderation in which she fact-checked Republican candidate Mitt Romney as an “unacceptable” example. But Fox’s attacks on Crowley are based on a lie, and they’re helping lay the groundwork for Trump to justify withdrawing from the debates.

Trump Says He Might Try To “Re-Negotiate” Debate Terms For “Fair Moderators”

Trump: “I’ll Have To See Who The Moderators Are. Yeah, I Would Say That Certain Moderators Would Be Unacceptable.” Time magazine reported that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “will commit to three debates this fall with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, but may try to re-negotiate the terms that have been agreed upon by a bipartisan commission.” Trump told Time, “‘I’ll have to see who the moderators are. Yeah, I would say that certain moderators would be unacceptable, absolutely.’” [Time magazine, 8/9/16]

Fox News Figures Justify Trump’s Threat, Pointing To Candy Crowley’s 2012 Debate Moderation

Fox’s Eric Bolling: “That’s Your Right” To Negotiate Moderators And Make Sure There’s No “Candy Crowley Situation.” After Fox regular Rudy Giuliani said that “what we are going to negotiate is — we’re not going to walk into a Candy Crowley situation,” — referring to the 2012 presidential debate where moderator CNN’s Candy Crowley interjected to correct Mitt Romney’s false attacks on President Obama. Fox host Eric Bolling responded, “And that’s your right. That’s typical debate negotiations.” Giuliani added that “we’re not going to fall into the trap that [2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt] Romney fell into with Crowley … . We’re not going to have some moderator do that to us.” From the August 11 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:

ERIC BOLLING (GUEST HOST): You know, this business about going up against the NFL, that’s not going to become an issue? It’s done? That’s been fixed?

RUDY GIULIANI: He is going to be there, he’s going to be there for the debates. What we are going to negotiate is — we’re not going to walk into a Candy Crowley situation. After all, we are New Yorkers. We are not suckers.

BOLLING: And that’s your right. That’s typical debate negotiations that go on at every level, primary level as well. It’s a give and take on who can moderate? Is that what it is?

GIULIANI: I used to — I participated in 11 primary presidential debates and we negotiated the size of the podium, how much time you get. Stuff like that.

BOLLING: Moderators?

GIULIANI: This time we’re going to negotiate moderators because we’re not going to fall into the trap that [2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt] Romney fell into with Crowley when she announced that Obama was right and Romney was wrong and it turned out the next day that it was the other way around. We’re not going to have some moderator do that to us.

BOLLING: I always said Romney should have had that in his back pocket to know that she was wrong. He could have fought back a little bit harder. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor,8/11/16]

Fox’s Charles Krauthammer: If The Moderators “Are Unacceptable,” Like Crowley, “You Can Say I’m Not Going To Participate Unless We Get Somebody Else.” Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer, calling Crowley’s debate moderation “shameful,” said, “I think it’s very important for the commission to think very hard about who would be acceptable to both sides.” Krauthammer added that “if they are unacceptable, you can say I’m not going to participate unless we get somebody else.” Fox contributor Laura Ingraham also said that “people were furious” about Crowley’s debate moderation and that picking debate moderators is “the more interesting question” than that of scheduling conflicts with the NFL. From the August 10 edition of Fox News’Special Report with Bret Baier:

LAURA INGRAHAM: I think the more interesting question here, Chris, is what the Republicans have been concerned about in the past. Remember, Romney, in the national poll average, I was looking back at this before the show, was six points ahead going into that Candy Crowley debate. And everybody remembers the transcript Candy moment on Benghazi, and people were furious. Candy Crowley ultimately said that Romney had had a good point except in the wording of what he said about the act of terrorism.

CHRIS WALLACE (GUEST HOST): But let’s just point out that in the debate she seemed to side with Obama.

INGRAHAM: Right, exactly. So that infuriated Republicans and some people believe that really turned the tide against Romney. I don’t know if it did or didn’t.


CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: The real issue is who moderates. And the Candy Crowley moment, I don’t know if it was decisive one, but it was shameful. She clearly took the side of Obama and she was wrong, which made it even worse. So I think it’s very important for the commission to think very hard about who would be acceptable to both sides. Generally speaking, the media overwhelmingly liberal, so if you are going to take a random sample you are going to get liberal moderators who will try to be objective, but in the end it’s very hard to be. So I think it’s important to make the point that we are going to be watching very carefully who the moderators are, and if they are unacceptable, you can say I’m not going to participate unless we get somebody else. Ask a bunch of respected, retired judges to be the ones who choose. [Fox News, Special Report, 8/10/16]

Fox’s Kimberly Guilfoyle: Trump “Reserves The Right To Renegotiate If He Feels” The Moderators Won’t Be “Fair And Balanced.” Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle said that “Trump is worried the same will happen to him,” referring to Crowley’s debate moderation, and added, “He wants them to be fair and balanced. He reserves the right to renegotiate if he feels in fact they are not.” From the August 11 edition of Fox News’ The Five:

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (CO-HOST): We all remember when Candy Crowley took President Obama’s side while moderating a 2012 presidential debate. This time around Donald Trump is worried the same will happen to him when he faces off against Hillary Clinton. He has agreed to participate in all three general election debates, but warns he may try to renegotiate the terms if it’s not fair and balanced.


Dana, so he wants to do the debates. He wants them to be fair and balanced. He reserves the right to renegotiate if he feels in fact they are not. How should this play out? [Fox News, The Five, 8/11/16]

Fox Contributor Karl Rove: Crowley’s Debate Moderation “Caused A Lot Of People To Be Concerned About The Impartiality Of The Moderators.” Fox contributor Karl Rove said that “in recent years, there have been questions” about whether the 2016 presidential debates can have a fair moderator, pointing to “Crowley getting herself involved in that [2012] debate.” Rove said her moderation “caused a lot of people to be concerned about the impartiality of the moderators.” From the August 11 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

STEVE DOOCY (HOST): Donald Trump says now he’s happy to do three debates if there’s a fair moderator. How often does that actually happen where there’s a fair moderator, fair to the various candidates?

KARL ROVE: Well, look, we used to have in the 20th century a general consensus that the moderators were fair and impartial. Jim Lehrer, for example, had a great reputation of being an impartial moderator. But in recent years there have been questions. I call it the Crowley effect, Candy Crowley getting herself involved in that debate, seeming to take, seeming to correct Mitt Romney. She was wrong, he was right in the debate. It has caused a lot of people to be concerned about the impartiality of the moderators. That’s only been made worse by the performance of some of these moderators in the Democratic and Republican presidential debates where they appeared to be unfair. So there’s a lot of concern about it. I’m not certain there’s an easy solution. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/11/16]

But Fox’s Attacks That Crowley Wasn’t “Impartial” Are Premised On A Lie

Crowley In 2012 Presidential Debate Corrected Romney’s False Attack On Obama. During a 2012 presidential debate between Romney and President Barack Obama, Romney claimed that “it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror,” when in fact Obama had used that language the day after the attack. Crowley interjected, saying, “He did call it an act of terror.” Right-wing media figures subsequently lashed out at Crowley, calling her “disgraceful” and comparing her to a “suicide bomber.” [CNN.com, 10/20/12; Media Matters, 10/19/12]

Obama Did In Fact Use The Term “Act Of Terror” The Day After The Benghazi Attacks. Discussing the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, the day after they occurred, Obama said, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.” [Remarks By The President On The Deaths Of U.S. Embassy Staff In Libya, The White House, 9/12/12]

Crowley Debunked Right-Wing Claims That She Later Walked Back Her Fact Check. After Crowley faced harsh criticism from conservatives over her correct fact check of Romney, she addressed the situation, saying, “So we knew that the president had said, you know, these acts of terror won’t stand or whatever the whole quote was.” She conceded that Romney was right in saying that it took the administration two weeks to clarify the cause of the attacks. Right-wing media claimed that Crowley was walking back her fact check, but she quickly debunked that narrative. [Media Matters, 10/17/12]

Photo: Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly poses on the set of his show “The O’Reilly Factor” in New York March 17, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid



  1. Independent1 August 14, 2016

    But absolutely!! The Republicans couldn’t afford to lose face by having a moderator point out that a candidate’s outright lies or fabrications of reality are just that – a lie or fabrication of reality. I mean, if you allowed the moderators to do that, the debates would never get over because the moderators would be spending all their time pointing out one lie and fabrication of reality after another.

    Gee whiz!! How would that look?? Making the whole nation aware that the only way that Republicans can debate is if they can throw in a few lies and fabricate reality whenever the get a chance. Shucks, Mitt Romney debated for Obama for over 4 hours and never once utter a sentence that was 100% truthful – and if he did say something truthful, he did it in a condescending way that made it look like there was something wrong with doing something beneficial for the country.

    For example: Mitt went on and on in one debate about the Obama administration allocating billions of dollars to research for alternative energy sources as if that was something terrible, when in fact it’s Obama’s green energy stimulus that is one big reason that Tesla and other auto manufacturers are getting close to making gas powered cars obsolete. And why solar energy today is cheaper at producing electric power than coal. And why research in plasma and other alternative energies will soon make fossil fuels obsolete altogether – all of this helping somewhat to stave off global warming to some extent while the GOP continues its obstruction of even something that could destroy our planet.

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  2. bojimbo26 August 14, 2016

    Absolutely no females and no men to tell `The Duck` to be quiet . /s ROFLMFAO .

  3. Dominick Vila August 14, 2016

    Moderators acceptable to Trump include O’Reilly, Limbaugh, Hannity, Rove, and Coulter. Everybody else is unacceptable. Copies of the questions that will be directed at him must be mailed to the Trump Tower two weeks in advance for careful study, and unbiased private debate by The Donald, and Russian oligarchs.

    1. Jon August 14, 2016

      Some say Ann Coulter has never charged Donnie for servicing him and considers it a charitable act. How can she be fair and balanced?

      1. Dominick Vila August 15, 2016

        Since when have fairness and balance been part of The Donald’s peculiar lexicon?

        1. Jon August 15, 2016

          I just assume he is very concerned about things being fair and balanced. During the primaries he was concerned at times about being cheated by unfair rules or rules being changed to keep him from becoming the Republican nominee. Now he believes the election will be rigged to keep him from becoming President. Or was he just joking or being sarcastic?

  4. Aaron_of_Portsmouth August 14, 2016

    FOX’s insistence on fair moderators should automatically exclude them or anyone associated with. Given the paranoia and extremism of this modern-day Frankenstein of an organization, and the egregious improprieties of Herr Dr. Frankenstein himself(aka Ailes), the notion of FOX having a say is like J. Edgar Hoover testifying on behalf of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, or Joe McCarthy defending black-listed actors accused of being communists.
    And Trump’s cozy relationship with Putin et al opens the door for more potential meddling in an already-flawed electoral process, one that has been further compromised by recent hacking.

  5. Jinmichigan August 14, 2016

    The chances that trump will show for any of the debates grow slimmer each day. He knows he doesn’t have a prayer even with his new found religion.

  6. The lucky one August 14, 2016

    The last thing either of the candidates wants is someone who will fact check their statements and call them on their lies.

  7. Grannysmovin August 14, 2016

    Funny this coward is afraid of facing Clinton in a debate with honest moderators (not like the ass kissers on Faux News who lie, are very biased and promote conspiracy theories not news) and he claims he is going to take down ISIS. By-the-way to the morons who blame Romney’s loss on Crowley you are on the intellectually bankrupt as Faux News. Romney lost the race because of his 47% comment, his policies, his refusal to release tax returns and his lack of personality.

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  8. AgLander August 14, 2016

    Even with the accepted knowledge that past moderators have been overwhelmingly biased, and will continue to be so in the disparity of questioning, both in tone and content that favored the Democrat candidate, Trump would still destroy the low energy and fumbling Hillary Clinton in a debate format. She is so scripted, so rehearsed, and so rigid that she would wilt under the pressure of having to actually face questions in an open forum she couldn’t directly control. Why do you think she never has press conferences? Add the factor of her truckload of criminal baggage that could blow up in her face at any given time and you will see someone on that stage that just wants to go home and take another one of her many daily naps that she needs just to make it to her regular bedtime.
    They better turn the temperature down to 50 degrees in the debate hall because she is going to be sweating a lot!

    1. Independent1 August 14, 2016

      And another totally irrelevant comment from a total loser that’s easily hidden.

    2. iamproteus August 14, 2016

      Aglander, you say some the most ridiculous things! Do you honestly believe all that crap? Or do you subscribe to the old saw about telling lies often enough that (ignorant) people will start to believe them? Wait! There is a third option: maybe, through no fault of your own, you’re one of those ignorant people and someone else is convincing you of their lies! Maybe I’ve been unfair to you and you’re not the a-hole I’ve believed you to be but just another fool who can’t resist the wiles of those nasty people who prey on that ignorance…….but then again…….

      1. Insinnergy August 15, 2016

        He’s an Astroturfer. He’s paid to advance that specific line of argument.
        It’s probably the most morally bankrupt way to make a dollar.

        1. iamproteus August 15, 2016

          Sad? Really, just sad? It’s not merely sad….it’s pathetic! His mommy and daddy must be very proud about the way he/she/it turned out.

    3. Rick2101 August 14, 2016

      Donald “The Fraud” Trump will never debate Clinton, he even ran away from a debate with Sanders. Trump is good at talking “big” but then all the excuses come out, I was joking, it was sarcasm; everyday backpedaling on his ridiculous statements. Donald “The Fraud” Trump will never be President of the United States, he never even intended to be President. His finances are in such bad shape he saw a campaign for the Presidency as a way to make easy money. So far the only money spent on advertising has been from outside groups, not one dollar from the Trump Campaign. http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/team-clinton-now-outspending-trump-ads-52-million-0-n626236

      I believe he is looking for a way out, his” long, long vacation”. He cannot face the humiliation, in his eyes, to lose to a girl. He will come up with some kind of “breakdown” excuse, take the money from his sham of a campaign then after the election have a “miraculous” recovery. He probably even believes he has a “career” to fall back on, but by then his name will be Mudd.

    4. King of America August 14, 2016

      Sorry that the racist candidate turned out to be an incompetent coward, but then all you racists are.

  9. Oddworld August 14, 2016

    Uh oh, the cracks in the facade are starting to show. It appears that Trump is only comfortable spouting his absurdities when there’s nobody around to counter his BS. Hey Trump, if you’re so sure about your policies why worry about the who the moderator is?

  10. jmprint August 14, 2016

    Ok, so what I’m getting by all these statements is that Trump wants the debates held at a Trump Rally with his children moderating the show! I don’t think it would matter, he is going to get bitch slapped all the way back to New York City.

  11. CrankyToo August 14, 2016

    So, Charles Krauthammer says, “Generally speaking, the media (is) overwhelmingly liberal…”

    What a disingenuous, pseudo-intellectual, blowhard that weenie is. How do you generalize about something being overwhelming? When you say the media is “overwhelmingly liberal”, you’re making a very specific statement, which one can only assume is supported by an abundance of fact.

    But, of course, as with most of what comes out of that a$$hole, there is no support for that very specific “generalization”. This guy’s just your typical, bloviating, wingnut con man – a real genius, to stupid people.

    1. Siegfried Heydrich August 14, 2016

      Says the guy on the overwhelmingly conservative media outlet. I always love that . . .

    2. wimsy August 14, 2016

      Insisting on facts evidently makes you a liberal. Conservatives get to ignore facts (and science) and insist on their version of reality. Global warming? No such thing.

    3. ralphkr August 14, 2016

      But, CrankyToo, you seem to have forgotten that anyone who is not marching in lockstep with the glorious infallible conservatives IS liberal. By their standards even Faux News has liberal tendencies from time to time. Yes, it is true that truth & facts have a liberal bias.

  12. Siegfried Heydrich August 14, 2016

    Drumpf is simply too cowardly to face Hillary mano a mano. The problem with one-on-one is that he can’t deflect or divert his way through. If he tries to pull that dominant macho bullschtick, Hillary will just smile sweetly and eviscerate him. He has NO knowledge of the subjects that will be brought up, and he can’t just bluff, bluster, or bloviate around it. He has no choice but to find an excuse for not debating in the same way he has to find an excuse for not releasing any of his personal information.

    He’s just Putin’s Potemkin candidate, with all the substance of a cotton candy sculpture.

    1. Daniel Jones August 14, 2016

      Oh, Drumpf has no problems facing people…
      …he just can’t face facts.

  13. Philippa Stirling August 14, 2016

    Why is it wrong for Trump to demand fairness in the moderation of the debates? Crowley lied when she stepped in to protect Obama – go back and look at the history of what was being discussed in that few moments, and watch the tape of that intervention. Romney was “had” and anyone who says otherwise is either willfully delusional or flat out ignorant.

    If the media will lie so thoroughly and consistently as it’s doing now, months before the debates, why would he trust them not to twist things as far to Hillary’s advantage as possible during?

    It’s called “caution” and it’s justified when the media are so in-the-bag for one candidate over another.

    1. CrankyToo August 14, 2016

      Many of us don’t have to “go back and look at the history” because we were watching it as it unfolded. If you think Ms. Crowley lied, then you clearly did not watch that debate.

      My advice to you would be to:

      1. Go back up and read the last three paragraphs of this article;
      2. Dump out the Kool; and
      3. Turn of Fox Noise.

      1. Edsel Brewers August 15, 2016

        Right on.

    2. Insinnergy August 15, 2016

      Because fairness for Trump would be Hannity running every debate and lobbing him soft-ball questions while grilling Hillary Clinton over complete lies remorselessly.

      You have to remember that “Fair” is never ever something Trump cares about. It’s “how can I get an overwhelming advantage”. His language asking for “fair debate moderators” is simply his initial angle to pitch his push for advantage.

      If Trump cared about fair he wouldn’t have walked out of Casinos, Real Estate deals and business dealings, leaving everyone else holding the bag.

      If Trump cared about fair he wouldn’t have engaged contractors to carpet and outfit his hotels, then refuse to pay them what he owed.

      And so on… and so on.

  14. gaines81 August 15, 2016

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  15. Max Kennedy August 15, 2016

    “…Candy Crowley interjected to correct Mitt Romney’s false attacks …” Except Romney was correct on the facts and Crowley was completely wrong, just like this “reporter.”

    1. Insinnergy August 15, 2016

      Moron alert.


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