But Trump would be crazy to accept the commission’s schedule or its role in setting formats and moderators. Though it is run by a bipartisan group, the Manhattan-Beltway media elites who are enmeshed in this outdated process are deeply anti-Trump, the opposite of neutrals. Debates are fine, but Trump should name one moderator, Biden another, and those two individuals agree on a third and then allow all networks to carry the feed.
It would be odd for Trump to agree to debate Biden under the authority of a commission deeply biased toward Beltway group think, no matter how confident he is that the former vice president lacks the energy to go two hours against him. But why walk into three ambushes?
How bad is the bias? Just examine this past week’s coverage of the shocking revelations about the persecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, whom Trump fired for lying to the FBI. The Justice Department has filed a motion to dismiss the charges against Flynn on the grounds that the case against him was unfair. As Attorney General William P. Barr was careful to note, we don’t know yet whether any of the officials who may have tried to frame Flynn broke laws. They certainly shattered many of our cherished ideals about transitions of power being seamless, peaceful and without deep intrigue. This is deeply unsettling conduct but is barely mentioned other than on the center-right platforms.
Look in vain as well for extended coverage of what should be the now-infamous transcripts released by House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) under duress last week. Schiff finally acted because acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell announced he was putting these long-suppressed transcripts out for all to see. The transcripts cast many of Trump-connected participants in the “Russia collusion” investigation in deeply unflattering light. Have you read much about these transcripts or those who said one thing under oath and another on a television set? The anti-Trump “news” business is averting its collective gaze from these contradictions.
Example three: bad faith and a general failure to disclose what it knew about the virus early on is a growing problem in foreign capitals for the Chinese Communist Party. But this story line is inconvenient to those who insist the tragic toll of the virus can be blamed on Trump, so the narrative is played down.
Trump is right to regard the media as Biden’s running mate. The good news is that debates may not be needed at all. Trump-Biden is a simple choice, already stark in five profound dimensions.
First, the choice pits a return to appeasement not just of the People’s Republic of China but Iran as well against Team Trump’s clarity and resolve toward both adversaries.
Second, continued defense buildup, or a return to Obama-era starvation of the Pentagon?
Next, a path to economic recovery marked by reliance on markets and deregulation, or the embrace of massive federal government control of every decision, a sort of wartime rationing of acceptable social and economic interactions?
Of course, a choice between judges and justices of the sort Trump has nominated, or back to Barack Obama activists in robes.
And, finally and crucially, an accounting and, if justified, prosecution of those who twisted the law after the people spoke in November 2016 in an attempt to undo their vote.
Manhattan-Beltway media elites are profoundly unrepresentative of the country and are as a consequence losing audience. A few islands of credibility remain.
But Trump shouldn’t trust to chance that the debates would be run by the fair-minded. The stakes are too high.