This New York Times story by Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni might look familiar to you, for a couple of reasons.
Trump May Skip Debates, or Seek New Host, if Process Isn’t ‘Fair’
President Trump’s campaign is considering only participating in general election debates if an outside firm serves as the host, and his advisers recently sat down with the nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates to complain about the debates it hosted in 2016.
The Dec. 19 meeting between Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., a prominent Republican and co-chairman of the commission, Brad Parscale, the campaign manager for Mr. Trump’s re-election effort, and another political adviser, Michael Glassner, came soon after Mr. Trump posted on Twitter that the 2016 debates had been “biased.”
It might look familiar because The Washington Post simultaneously published a nearly identical story.
Trump campaign warns debate commission the president may not participate if process is not ‘fair’
Senior Trump campaign officials lobbied the nonpartisan presidential debate commission last month over the makeup of its board of directors and its moderator choices, pushing for a process they deemed as “fair” and warning that the president may not participate if he is not satisfied, according to people familiar with the meeting.
The December conversation between Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, campaign operating officer Michael Glassner and Frank Fahrenkopf, the co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, came as the president weighed whether to participate in the trio of debates scheduled for this fall and as he attacked the commission on Twitter.
It might also seem familiar because we read a very similar story in the Times a little more than a month ago, also carrying the byline of Haberman and Karni:
Will Trump Debate a Democrat in 2020? He’s Not So Sure.
President Trump is discussing with his advisers the possibility of sitting out the general election debates in 2020 because of his misgivings about the commission that oversees them, according to two people familiar with the discussions.
Mr. Trump has told advisers that he does not trust the Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonprofit entity that sponsors the debates, the two people said.
That story appeared a week before the meeting cited in the current stories.
I'm not sure why we're learning now about a meeting that took place a month ago, and that didn't lead to any conclusions. And I don't know why both the Times and the Post learned the details of this December meeting at exactly the same moment.
But I can guess. Trumpworld wants a news story that's about anything other than Ukraine and impeachment. Trump campaign chief Brad Parscale wants the mainstream media to issue a press relea-- sorry, a news story -- saying that he and Trump are Real Men who aren't going to take any guff from the liberal debate commission (co-chair Fahrenkopf used to be head of the Republican National Committee, but that was pre-Trump, so he's basically a Democrat as far as MAGA Nation is concerned).
As I said last month, I don't believe (as many of you do) that the campaign is looking to find a way to prevent a mentally addled Trump from debating. I maintain that Trump isn't mentally addled -- stupid, yes, and informed by nothing more authoritative than Fox & Friends and Twitter, but not mentally impaired.
Parscale and his crew are just using this occasion to intimidate the debate commission because Trump believes in intimidating every counterparty in every transaction (except when he develops a mancrush, as with Putin or Kim Jong-un), and because it's an occasion for Parscale to say, while beating his chest, "LOOK HOW WE'RE OWNING THE LIBS AGAIN!"
From the Post story:
Parscale complained to Fahrenkopf that so many members of the board of directors were, in his estimation, against the president and that he wanted the commission to choose moderators that were viewed as fair by the president’s team.
According to people familiar with the meeting, Parscale cited at least one past moderator that he deemed as unfair, the people familiar with the meeting said.
“We want to have debates that are fair and are more geared toward informing the American people than to boosting the careers of the moderators,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.
He also reiterated the complaint from the president that the microphone did not work during a 2016 debate to the president’s liking. Glassner merely observed, the people familiar said. Campaigns have raised concerns with the commission before, but officials said it had never happened this early in the process.
He wants to intimidate, and he wants it known that he's doing some intimidating. And the Times and the Post are only too eager to spread the word.
Published with permission from No More Mr. Nice Blog