Twelve prominent news organizations, including the top five broadcast and cable networks, issued a joint statement on Sunday calling for the 2024 presidential candidates to commit to participating in general election debates. The group, consisting of entities such as ABC News, CBS News, CNN, FOX News Media, and NBCUniversal News Group, emphasized the importance of debates in the democratic process. They noted that these events have been a critical part of every presidential election since 1976, drawing tens of millions of viewers who are eager to see the candidates present their visions side by side.

The statement highlighted the historical significance of these debates, underscoring their role in informing voters and facilitating a competition of ideas. The networks and publications united in their call reflect a wide spectrum of media, including NewsNation, Noticias Univision, NPR, PBS NewsHour, and USA TODAY, all advocating for a tradition that they argue helps shape the public’s understanding of the candidates and their policies.

Debate Commitments and Candidate Responses

The call for debate participation comes amid uncertainties surrounding the candidates’ willingness to engage in this election cycle’s debates. Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, skipped all Republican primary debates for the 2023 and 2024 seasons but has expressed enthusiasm about debating the current President Joe Biden in the upcoming general election. However, the Biden campaign has not yet committed, with Biden himself suggesting that his decision “depends on his behavior,” referencing Trump’s conduct.

The news organizations pointed to the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which has been organizing presidential debates since 1988, noting that while it’s too early for formal invitations, it’s an appropriate time for candidates to express their intentions to participate. This proactive approach by the media aims to ensure that debates remain a fixture in this election cycle, given their potential impact on voter decision-making and the overall electoral process. The unified message from these organizations concludes with a call to acknowledge the high stakes of the upcoming election and the irreplaceable value of direct candidate debate.