October’s CNBC-hosted Republican debate threw into full relief the bias inherent in the mainstream media’s handling of electoral politics. In the wake of the broadcast, both the MSM and RNC leadership fielded comments and accusations from candidates (and conservative bloggers…) rendered beyond frustrated at the CNBC moderators’ questions, tone, and approach to a slate of candidates they treated like a lineup of hostile witnesses.

Donald Trump has spent a great deal of time since that debate lashing out at the media over its treatment of conservatives, and his latest move is one that his supporters hope will set him further apart from the pack.

Republican campaign reps gathered together this weekend in a meeting organized by GOP attorney Ben Ginsberg to craft a list of demands the entire slate of GOP candidates could present to network executives before the next debate. Representatives from Trump’s campaign attended this meeting—then promptly announced their intention to independently negotiate with the networks apart from Ginsberg’s efforts.

Team Trump is on its own again—but the Donald’s main competitor doesn’t seem to be too worried about it. More via WaPo:

“If they want to send their own letter, that’s fine – a letter’s a letter,” said Bennett. “The Trump folks were clear about what they wanted, and the Carson campaign agrees with them 90 percent of the time. We’re getting opening and closing statements. We’re going to get some parity in questions. We’re going to actually get formats announced to the campaigns. Trump’s basically asking for the same thing, he’s just going to do with his own letterhead.”

The only disagreement between the Trump and Carson camps, as Bennett saw it, was that Trump opposed letting more candidates onstage. “They don’t want more people onstage, because they think that would mean more people taking shots at him,” said Bennett. “I’d argue that putting more people onstage actually helps Trump the most, as everyone’s going to want to divide the time evenly.”

This is clearly an effort to protect Trump’s status as the top candidate. The latest polling numbers show Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio all nipping at Trump’s heels; Trump’s support however, dipped two points, which is a small change but not an insignificant one in an important state like Iowa.

It’ll be interesting to see how far Trump chooses to deviate from the narratives pushed by an allegedly more united GOP field—and how much influence he will be able to leverage if he ends up the odd man out when future debate format and content negotiations come to a close.

He’s powerful, and loud, but he’s not unbeatable—and this could end up being a riskier move than the Trump campaign counted on.

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