CNBC Agrees to Two-Hour Debate After Carson, Trump Threaten to Boycott

Leah Barkoukis
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Posted: Oct 16, 2015 3:45 PM
CNBC Agrees to Two-Hour Debate After Carson, Trump Threaten to Boycott

Clocking in at three hours, most would likely agree that the last GOP presidential debate was way too long for viewers, and probably the candidates, too. That’s why the campaigns of Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump threatened to be no shows if the third debate lasted more than 120 minutes, including commercials and opening and closing statements.

In a letter to Washington Bureau Chief Matthew Cuddy, Trump and Carson said they were writing because “the Agenda sent to the campaigns recently by CNBC in partnership with the Republican National Committee (RNC), and reiterated on yesterday’s call, indicated that there would be “two hours of debate time” plus four commercial breaks lasting between 2 and 4 minutes each. In addition, your Agenda stated there would not be any opening or closing statements and included a statement that the campaigns had agreed.”

“To be clear,” they continued, “neither of our campaigns agreed to either the length you propose or your ban on opening or closing statements. In fact, neither of our campaigns were even consulted.”

In an interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, Trump said the reason the network wanted to extend the debate is so they could add more commercials, and thus, bring in more money. 

“The same thing is happening as happened with CNN,” he told the host. “They sold the commercials so much, and for so much money. It was going to be $4,000 for a 30-second commercial, and then it ended up being $200,000 and $250,000 for a 30-second commercial. And the same thing is happening now with CNBC. And what they’re trying to do, they’ve sold out all their commercials and they want to increase [the debate] by an hour.”

“I think it’s unfair to the viewers because it’s too much to watch,” he added. “They’re doing it because they want to make more money ... It’s unfair to the viewers. I don’t care. I could stand for five hours; I could stand for 10 hours.”

Rather than face a boycott by the GOP’s top two candidates, it appears CNBC has agreed to the terms Carson and Trump set forth in their letter. 

The next GOP debate is being held Oct. 28 in Boulder, Colorado and will focus on economic issues.