Mark Twain once quipped that you should never go to war with people who buy ink by the barrel. Donald Trump has flipped this axiom on its head, succeeding in politics because he ALWAYS goes to war with people who buy ink by the barrel. The latest major (and previously untouchable) media outlet to land in Trump’s crosshairs is the New Hampshire Union-Leader. As he has done to virtually every media outlet thus far, Trump has emerged the winner of this scuffle, as ABC has announced that they have ended the Union-Leader’s participation in the upcoming debate at St. Anselm College.
What apparently provoked Trump’s ire was the Union-Leader’s endorsement of Chris Christie in the Republican primary. According to Donald Trump this morning, what specifically set Trump off was that the Union-Leader’s Publisher, Joseph McQuaid, called him and asked him to tweet something in favor of Chris Christie being on the main debate state, and then turned around later and endorsed Chris Christie.
Ah, he said, a strange one, you know, @realdonaldtrump, so I have millions and millions of followers, especially when you add Facebook. It’s like 5 and a half, 5.6 million for Twitter, over five million for Facebook, Instagram, it’s like 11 million people, and I said, what is it? He (McQuaid) said, would you do me a favor? This is a few weeks ago. Chris Christie did not make the main stage. I would like you to tweet that Chris Christie SHOULD be on the main debate stage. I said, but Joe, he didn’t make it because he didn’t make it. You know, you have to go through, you have to get a certain number of points in the polls. Well, he didn’t make it but he should be there and it’s not fair, would you tweet. So I said I’ll tweet. I figured, what are you gonna do, I’m gonna be nice. But I knew immediately he was going to endorse Chris Christie. But can you imagine a guy calling me up, knowing he’s going to endorse a guy, asking me to use my twitter to put him in? And other than that, I mean, the guy’s bad news, okay. He’s not a talented guy.
In this case, there is some pretty good evidence that Trump’s claim about the conversation is true, because I remember how bizarre and out of character this tweet was for Trump, who had openly berated other candidates like Rand Paul, saying their poll numbers are so terrible they should be on the stage.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2015
When the Union Leader then turned around and endorsed Christie, Trump (of course) took it very personally, and leaned on ABC to exclude them from the debate, which they have done. The Union Leader, predictably, was not amused at having to report that ABC had just kicked them off the stage:
“I am pleased to announce that I had the Union Leader removed from the upcoming debate,” Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon, minutes after the newspaper was told by an ABC News executive they were going to “split ways.”
The debate, scheduled for Feb. 6 from the campus of St. Anselm College, is the only time Republicans will meet head-to-head in the Granite State.
ABC News’ decision to drop the Union Leader from the Republican debate follows a similar incident before their Democratic debate last month. WMUR-TV was not allowed to participate after the Democratic National Committee had them removed due to an ongoing labor dispute with fewer than a dozen members of a union at the station based in Manchester.
In a statement, Union Leader Publisher Joseph W. McQuaid blasted ABC’s decision.
“We are amused by ABC News apparently just discovering that we endorse candidates and write editorials. We have been doing both for many years and it has never been a problem with ABC or other debate sponsors,” McQuaid said.
“We consider ABC’s actions to be spineless. Between bowing to the DNC and Trump, ABC is more concerned about appeasing the parties and candidates than informing voters. The Union Leader will continue to serve Granite Staters by being a reliable source of information about where candidates stand.”
Time will tell who will win the war between Trump and the New Hampshire Union Leader, but it is clear that Trump has won this battle. And thus far, he is re-writing all the things you have to do to win in the early states.