MSNBC plans to cover portions of the Trump event live, including a speech by the candidate during the 9 p.m. hour, according to a spokeswoman for the NBCUniversal-owned cable network. Time Warner’s CNN, meanwhile, could treat it as a live news event, according to a person familiar with the situation, with coverage will largely depending on the nature of what is being presented.
Neither network plans to pre-empt regular programming. At MSNBC, “The Rachel Maddow Show” will air at 9 p.m., as expected. CNN intends to air “CNN Tonight With Don Lemon” for two hours starting at 9 p.m., followed by analysis anchored by Anderson Cooper of the Republican debate as presented on Fox News Channel.
The moves signal a willingness by Fox News competitors to try and make some hay from a feud that has erupted between the 21st Century Fox operation and Trump. The Republican candidate said Tuesday he would not take part in Fox News’ coverage of the debate, which is being broadcast just days before the start of the Iowa Caucus, a seminal stop along the campaign trail.
The candidate and the cable-news network are ostensibly bickering over Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who Trump has expressed a dislike for since she asked tough questions of him during a previous Fox News-hosted Republican debate last year. Fox News has said in a statement that it would not allow a political candidate to dictate the moderators of its debates or the questions they ask.
To be sure, Trump may have something to say. He has said the event would serve as a fundraiser for veterans. Republican Presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are expected to attend.
Trump’s exit is not likely to undermine the economics of the Fox News broadcast. The network has said in a statement that advertising surrounding the broadcasts of the debate is sold out and that none of the sponsors have asked to pull commercials.