USA Today reported late Monday that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed demanding $5 million from CNN or he would not participate in the next debate during a campaign stop in Macon, Georgia.
Trump says CNN hasn't treated him properly even though his celebrity has been responsible for increased viewership on the network. He cited CNN's last debate in September, which brought in an audience of 23 million people.
“'CNN had 23 million people. It was the biggest show in the history of CNN,' Trump said. And the billionaire businessman is reopening negotiations over whether he will lend his star power to the debate the network is hosting Dec. 15," USA Today reports.
“How about I tell CNN that I’m not gonna do the next debate?” Trump asked the crowd. “I won’t do the debate unless they pay me $5 million, all of which money goes to the Wounded Warriors or to vets,” Trump said, following a segue into how people who are “really, really, really smart like I am,” don’t need teleprompters. Trump was particularly stung by what he felt was unfair coverage of his closed-door meeting with African-American ministers earlier Monday.
Though he said he didn't want to point fingers at any specific pundits, he did name drop one big one:
“Guys like Karl Rove. He spends hundreds of millions of dollars on campaigns, he wins nothing. There are some people that are losers,” he said.
The purpose of these debates is supposed to give voters an opportunity to learn about the candidates and where they stand on important issues, but many of them have been far from that.
Regardless of what you think of this, Trump sees what these debates have become -- ratings-driven entertainment, and he is an entertainer.
If Trump moved forward with this demand, he would likely be widely criticized for it. However, to maximize its audience, can CNN come out right now and say it wouldn't pay it? Who would blink first?
CNN is scheduled to host the next GOP primary debate on Tuesday, December 15.
Photo Source: Reuters