Written by David Zimmermann
What’s happening: Instead of attending Fox News’ first 2024 GOP debate Wednesday night, former President Donald Trump will do a prerecorded interview with former Fox host Tucker Carlson, counterprogramming against the mainstream media outlet’s primetime event. Before the decision was publicized last week, Fox tried to convince Trump to participate in the debate.
Why? Trump said on Truth Social he won’t do any primary debates because he’s leading all other Republican presidential candidates by wide margins. His collaboration with Carlson is seen as an attack against Fox after the company unexpectedly fired Carlson in April.
- The strategy: In Trump’s eyes, debating would only give other candidates the opportunity to peel away at his advantage in the polls. The risk outweighs his reward.
Zoom out: Fox backed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis early in the race. The network gave him good coverage at first, but once his campaign started floundering, its owner Rupert Murdoch personally urged Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to run against Trump. The former president has been publicly hostile toward Fox, which he feels has been covering him unfavorably.
Why it matters: The 2024 election is unlike any other because mainstream media no longer controls the political narrative. Trump is challenging Fox while other candidates, including Vivek Ramaswamy and Robert Kennedy Jr., are campaigning on smaller outlets and podcasts.