As The Wrap notes, Donald Trump wasn’t happy about CNN’s three hour long GOP presidential debate in September. He’d complained, before the last debate even happened, that CNN was “milking it” with the duration.
Seemingly worried that he’d have to endure three consecutive hours of pretending to be worthy of presidency, he’d also vehemently opposed the prospect of another debate of equal duration. With the CNBC debate on October 28 fast approaching, he’d become vocal about his opposition, saying that he’d boycott if it were set to be any longer than two hours, and if they cut opening and closing statements. He’d explained the reasoning behind his protest as having to do with the networks monetizing the length through more — and far more expensive — commercials. (As opposed to, say, him fearing burnout at the two hour mark.) While he complained that the democratic debate was just two hours long (as Deadline points out, it was actually 2.5), the difference is that GOP had 11 candidates to stuff into their debates, while the Democrats only had five.
Of course, CNBC wouldn’t have wanted to risk a boycott, since the first two GOP debates did so superlatively ratings-wise (earning 24 million viewers for Fox and 23 million viewers for CNN, who, taking a cue from Fox’s ratings, had charged 40 times what they normally do for ads). And so the GOP seems to have seized control of debate formatting, likely due to the network’s fear of giving up a Trump ratings boom. After both Trump’s campaign — joined by that of Ben Carson — sent a letter to CNBC, the network has officially agreed to change their rules: with commercial breaks, the debate won’t run past two hours. They’ve also agreed to feature opening and closing statements from all 11 candidates (limited to 30 seconds) — which will encroach on whatever time they’ll have to answer impromptu questions.
Trump made sure to boast: