Mainstream media organizations unified together and penned a joint statement urging the presumptive Republican and Democrat presidential nominees, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, to publicly commit to participating in the televised debates before the general election.

The following news organizations issued the joint statement:

  • ABC News
  • The Associated Press
  • CBS News
  • CNN
  • C-SPAN
  • FOX News Media
  • NBCUniversal News Group
  • NewsNation
  • Noticias Univision (Univision Network News)
  • NPR
  • PBS NewsHour
  • USA Today

“If there is one thing Americans can agree on during this polarized time, it is that the stakes of this election are exceptionally high. Amidst that backdrop, there is simply no substitute for the candidates debating with each other, and before the American people, their visions for the future of our nation,” the joint statement read.

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ABC News reports:

This unusual move comes amid an election cycle during which the practice of debates, a decades-old American campaign tradition, has been met with uncertainty from both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Trump, who skipped all four Republican National Committee-sanctioned 2024 primary election debates and pulled out of one of his three debates with Biden in 2020, has enthusiastically urged Biden to participate in the three general debates scheduled for this fall — a position echoed by his campaign again on Sunday.

“President Trump has been very clear: he is willing to debate Joe Biden any time, any where, any place. We once again call on Joe Biden to commit to debates,” spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said.

The Biden campaign has expressed concern with the organization of these debates by the Commission on Presidential Debates, signaling that the nonpartisan group that has sponsored the events since the 1980s has been unclear about their ability to administer a “fair” debate with Trump.

“The Trump campaign also wants the timetable moved up, saying that many Americans will have already voted by Sept. 16, Oct. 1 and Oct. 9, the dates of the three debates set by the commission,” the Associated Press writes.

From the Associated Press:

The Biden campaign declined comment on the news organizations’ letter, pointing to the president’s earlier statement. There was no immediate response from the Trump campaign.

But on Saturday, Trump held a rally in northeast Pennsylvania with two lecterns set up on the stage: one for him to give a speech, the other to symbolize what he said was Biden’s refusal to debate him. The second lectern had a placard that read, “Anytime. Anywhere. Anyplace.”

Midway through his campaign speech, Trump turned to his right and pointed to the second lectern.

“We have a little, look at this, it’s for him,” he said. “See the podium? I’m calling on Crooked Joe Biden to debate anytime, anywhere, any place. Right there. And we have to debate because our country is going in the wrong direction so badly and while it’s a little bit typically early we have to debate. We have to explain to the American people what the hell is going on,” Trump said.

C-SPAN, NewsNation and Univision also joined the letter calling for debates. Only one newspaper, USA Today, added its voice. The Washington Post declined a request to join.

Certainly the broadcasters could use the juice that debates may bring. Television news ratings are down significantly compared with the 2020 campaign, although there are other factors involved, such as cord-cutting and the pandemic, that increased interest in news four years ago.

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