RNC Chair Reince Priebus is getting a lot of grief this morning, with people contending he should never have agreed to have CNBC host a debate. Remember, before this cycle, any media entity could announce they were hosting a debate and the candidates decided whether they wanted to show up. This is how we ended up with 20 debates in 2012. The big change with the RNC-set schedule is that MSNBC didn’t get a debate at all. The next one is on Fox Business; after that it’s CNN again, Fox News again, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News/Telemundo – with National Review participating – then Fox News again, then CNN again.
You hear a lot of “we should have [insert conservative media entity here] host a debate”, and as mentioned above, National Review will be playing a role in the one in Houston. But the cost of putting on a debate is about $2 million. Most conservative entities don’t have that kind of cash lying around, and the networks won’t kick in if they don’t get the broadcast rights and resulting advertising revenue. There are some interesting discussions going on about non-network options – remember, last week Yahoo broadcast an NFL game – but for now, if you want a debate to be seen, you need a television network as a partner.