Trump fails to upstage first GOP debate

Despite drawing tens of millions of viewers — at least for some portion of his 46-minute conversation with fired Fox News host Tucker Carlson — Donald Trump’s efforts to counterprogram the first Republican debate on Wednesday appears to be a dud — at least according to Trump’s own post-debate reaction. 

After his low-energy interview with Carlson aired on X, formerly known as Twitter, Trump took to his social media site, Truth Social, to lash out at the network which hosted eight Republican presidential hopefuls on a debate stage in Milwaukee, taking particular aim at his longtime friend and Fox News host Sean Hannity. 

DeSanctimonious was a “BOMB” tonight, especially with his softball interview with Sean Hannity. This guy has totally forgotten his past. Who cares!?!?

“I’m loyal to my family, the Constitution and the Lord, our God,” DeSantis told Hannity after the debate. “I work with other politicians to advance a common agenda, but nobody’s entitled to be endorsed or supported. You’ve got to earn that.”

Carlson posted the interview to his more than 9 million followers just minutes before the Fox News debate began. During the much-hyped conversation, pre-recorded at his Bedminster, N.J. golf course, Trump lashed out at what was once his favorite network.  

“Do I sit there for an hour or two hours or whatever it’s going to be and get harassed by people that shouldn’t even be running for president? Should I be doing that?” Trump said of his decision to turn down the debate. “And a network that isn’t particularly friendly to me.”

“I think it was a terrible move getting rid of you,” he told Carlson, who remains under contract with Fox News. “You’re No. 1 on television and all of a sudden we’re doing this interview, but we’ll get bigger ratings doing this crazy forum that you’re using than probably the debate.” According to statistics on the platform, the interview drew upwards of 75 million viewers. 

But for all of the pair’s talk of the death of television, their social media stunt felt like a stale re-run. Meant to draw attention away from Trump’s rivals, the standard rehash of Trump grievances fell flat opposite a dynamic debate with eager candidates taking swipes at one another. 

By contrast, Carlson and Trump commiserated over their shared disdain for former Fox News host Chris Wallace (“Bitchy little man,” Carlson said of Wallace. “He wanted to be his father, but he didn’t have the talent of his. His father was great,” Trump added. “Little fussy man,” Carlson continued.) A tried and true MAGA complaint. 

 In his first post following the debut GOP debate, Trump again took aim at his former vice president, denying that he asked Mike Pence to violate the Consitution in an effort to overturn the 2020 election results. 

I never asked Mike Pence to put me above the Constitution. Who would say such a thing? A FAKE STORY!

“Do you believe Mike Pence did the right thing on Jan. 6?” moderator Martha MacCallum asked the eight candidates on Wednesday. 

Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said, “deserves our thanks as Americans for putting his oath of office and the Constitution of the United States before personal, political and unfair pressure.” 

At the end of the day, little of Wednesday’s antics will matter when Trump, who is leading by more than 20 points in the early voting state of Iowa, will have to surrender to authorities at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta on Thursday for charges relating to Jan. 6. 

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about the Fulton County indictment


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