12 Top News Organizations Sign Letter

As the 2024 presidential campaign begins to take shape, a group of news organizations are calling on both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump to publicly commit to participating in debates ahead of the November election. In a joint statement released on Thursday, the group urged the presumptive nominees to participate in debates, citing the long-standing tradition of the Commission on Presidential Debates and the need for the American public to hear from both candidates.

The statement, signed by a dozen news organizations including ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News, emphasized the importance of debates in the election process. It stated, "Since 1988, the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates has sponsored all presidential general election debates.

The Commission has previously announced dates, times, and eligibility criteria for 2024 debates." The group also acknowledged that while it may be early in the campaign, it is not too early for candidates to publicly commit to participating in debates.

The push for both candidates to commit to participating in debates comes after the Trump campaign released a statement last week calling for more debates to be added to the schedule and for them to take place earlier. The three debates currently scheduled are set for September 16, October 1, and October 9. Trump has been vocal about his desire to debate Biden, even bringing an empty podium on stage during a rally and taunting Biden to "debate anytime, anyplace."

Biden has not yet announced whether he will participate in the debates. His campaign spokesman, Michael Tyler, responded to Trump's taunt, saying it was a "weak merch play from a guy desperate to avoid talking about how he's got no cash, no campaign infrastructure, and no answer for how his chaotic, divisive and violent campaign is going to win this November." Tyler also referenced Trump's comments last fall, when he said that only people who are losing want debates.

The statement from the news organizations comes at a time when tensions are high in the political arena and both candidates are vying for the public's attention. The debates provide a rare opportunity for voters to see the candidates side by side and hear their views on important issues facing the country. It is a chance for voters to make an informed decision at the polls.

Some experts believe that debates can sway voters, especially in closely contested elections. In 2020, a study by the Pew Research Center found that the majority of voters (59%) said the debates were helpful in deciding how to vote. This reinforces the news organizations' call for transparency and commitment from the candidates to participate in debates.

The statement also highlights the role of the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has been responsible for organizing and sponsoring general election debates since 1988. The Commission's mission is to ensure that debates provide the best possible information to the public, and it works to create a balanced and fair platform for the candidates to engage with each other. The Commission has already announced dates and eligibility criteria for 2024 debates, but the candidates must commit to participate.

Although the presidential debates have been a long-standing tradition, there have been instances where candidates have chosen not to participate. Most recently, in 2020, then-President Trump declined to participate in a virtual debate due to his COVID-19 diagnosis.

While the candidates have the final say in whether they participate, the news organizations' statement serves as a reminder of the importance of this tradition and the need for both candidates to publicly commit to participating.

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