CNBC Debate Fallout: What Campaigns Want Now From the Networks

By Mark Joyella 

In the wake of last week’s heavily-criticized Republican presidential debate on CNBC, representatives of GOP campaigns gathered Sunday in an effort to reclaim control of how debates are structured. Everything, it seems, is now up for negotiation–not just the moderators and formats, but even camera shots and questions.

On Friday, the Republican National Committee announced it would no longer participate in plans for an NBC News debate scheduled for February.

But anger and frustration are not limited to CNBC, with much of the debate process coming up for discussion among Republican campaigns over the weekend.

The New York Times reported Saturday Republican candidate Ted Cruz offered one suggestion–dubbed a “radical” proposal: “How about if we say from now on if you have never voted in a Republican primary in your life you don’t get to moderate a Republican primary debate.”

Politico reports campaign representatives who met Sunday reportedly discussed wide-ranging ideas–a list of issues they would present to television networks as a means of deciding which debates the campaigns would agree to participate in.

At one point in the meeting, representatives for Bush demanded that campaigns have veto power over which graphics the networks are allowed to use. (During the last debate, CNBC used a graphic listing Bush’s past work as a financial consultant but omitting his eight-year tenure as Florida governor.) Aides to other candidates agreed.

Advisers also agreed that they should be able to get information about the debates from the networks further in advance, and that each candidate should get an equal number of questions.

Screen-Shot-2015-11-01-at-9.31.34-PMThe Washington Post obtained a copy of a draft letter (left) to be sent to networks, which includes asking networks to agree not to show camera shots from behind the candidates, not to show reaction shots of moderators, and asking for an agreement not to ask yes or no questions without allowing candidates to explain in detail.