GOP’s 2024 candidates have a major media problem on their hands

Morning Consult is out with new data showing that Republicans are likely harming themselves politically by choosing to pitch their views almost exclusively on obviously right-wing networks. 

In its report, Morning Consult took a look at viewer demographics for news channels other than Fox News and found that — surprise, surprise — Republicans who appear solely on conservative-friendly networks are neglecting an opportunity to reach large swaths of independents and fellow Republicans on MSNBC, CNN and other channels.

As Eli Yokley writes in the report, “some top Republicans believe the eschewal of what many of their elected officials refer to as ‘fake news’ or ‘lamestream’ media has missed an important chunk of potentially swayable voters who still tune into those cable and broadcast networks — an outlook that’s supported by Morning Consult data.”

That poses a dilemma for the Republican Party, as many of its members are dead set on pushing the party’s platform further to the right and using their positions to launder conspiracy theories on everything from the 2020 election to the coronavirus and M&Ms.

The report lists the recent appearance of Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., on “The ReidOut” as an example of what the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, told Morning Consult she would like to see more of: a willingness to engage with networks outside the conservative echo chamber. (On the issues discussed, Donalds did a good amount of dancing around and deflecting — you can read more on that here — but the representative gets an “E” for effort.)

Compare that with a fellow Florida Republican, Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose team recently vowed to boycott NBC News and MSNBC in a tantrum over host Andrea Mitchell’s phrasing of a question to Vice President Kamala Harris about DeSantis’ opposition to some uncomfortable-yet-necessary classroom discussion about the history of slavery and American racism. 

Over the weekend, DeSantis gave a sense of the kind of interviews he prefers, fielding easy questions from a Fox News host while playing catch on a baseball field. Some observers were quick to note that it was like DeSantis was literally fielding softballs.

The settings for these interviews matter. Republicans haven’t won the popular vote in a presidential election since 2004. They’ve lost the ability — or the willingness — to attract broader appeal. (Methinks the overt racism and misogyny don’t help.)

But for Republicans with apparent 2024 presidential ambitions — such as DeSantis — winning elections in a democratic society means resonating with people outside their bubble. And that’s likely going to mean taking off the Fox News training wheels, and taking questions from a network that isn’t in the Republican Party’s pocket. 

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