The RNC announced on Thursday that the fourth debate would be hosted by New Nation, "The Megyn Kelly Show," The Washington Free Beacon, and Rumble.
This decision marks a pivot in a different direction from the first three debates, which were hosted by mainstream media outlets Fox News, Fox Business, and NBC News. The RNC had previously faced criticism for its choice of hosts, as it had promised to use the events to "raise" conservative media up.
Republicans are excited about the RNC's fourth debate, as they believe it will allow presidential candidates to get their message in front of base voters. North Carolina RNC Chairman Michael Whatley expressed his enthusiasm, stating, "What we want to try and do is make sure that we're giving as many platforms as we can to get these candidates out in front of as many voters as they can to be able to deliver their message."
The RNC has chosen several partners to be involved in the debates, including Young America's Foundation, Rumble, the Republican Jewish Coalition, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Salem Radio News, and Univision. However, the partnership with Univision came under fire during the second debate when conservative media personalities criticized the station's line of questioning about LGBTQ discrimination and racism. Critics argued that these questions did not matter to Republican voters during a GOP primary presidential debate.
Conservative outlets outside of the mainstream media expressed frustration with the RNC's application process to host a debate after the second debate. These outlets felt overlooked in favor of more prominent media organizations. This frustration stemmed from the RNC's previous promise to use the debates to build up conservative media.
An RNC spokesperson defended the committee's decision, stating, "Every debate has involved conservative voices having a seat at the table and asking questions, and we look forward to continuing that next month in December with our fourth debate partners."
The RNC unveiled NBC as the host of the third debate in partnership with Salem Radio News. However, this choice also drew criticism from GOP operatives who questioned whether the NBC debate served a purpose. Evan Power, vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, expressed his concerns, stating, "I don't think that people that are openly combative to the conservative cause should be hosting a debate with our primary contestants."
Despite the criticism, the third debate's moderators, Lester Holt and Kristen Welker, refrained from asking questions from a liberal perspective. They kept the debate moving and allowed each candidate to answer before changing topics. Some praised NBC News for maintaining control of the debate and keeping things on track and on topic.
The RNC's announcement about its fourth debate partners has been relatively well-received by Republicans. They praised the decision to ditch establishment media in favor of smaller, right-leaning platforms. Jeff Kaufmann, RNC member and Republican Party of Iowa Chairman, stated, "Partnering with media outlets outside of the traditional cable news giants for the fourth debate is, in my view, a welcome continuation of this approach."
Gordon Kinne, the national committeeman from Missouri who serves on the RNC debate committee, explained that the group is working to choose organizations from all over the media spectrum to reach different audiences. He stated, "We've been trying to cover a bigger spectrum as you can of the various factions of the populace that are out there and where they come from."
Megyn Kelly, who has moderated five GOP presidential primary debates, including the most-watched presidential primary debate in the 2016 election cycle, expressed her excitement for the upcoming event. She described it as "the margarita of debates — spicy, fun, and somewhat intoxicating."