NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo will host the first debate of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates in June, the Democratic National Committee said today. CNN is set for the second one in July. Read an internal memo to staff from NBC News president Andy Lack below.
Both debates will be held over two consecutive nights, given the growing size of the Dem field. No hard date, city or venue for either was announced.
They will be the first of 12 debates that the DNC announced in December. Six will be held this year and six more in 2020. Participation on a particular night will be determined by a public random selection rather than being based on standing in the polls.
“We’ve spent months working with media partners to provide this unprecedented opportunity for candidates and voters to get to know each other,” DNC chairman Tom Perez said in a statement. “Because campaigns are won on the strength of their grassroots, we’ve also updated the threshold, giving all types of candidates the opportunity to reach the debate stage and giving small-dollar donors a bigger voice in the primary than ever before.
To qualify, a candidate will need to have at least 1% support in three qualifying polls or provide evidence of at least $65,000 individual donations from a minimum of 200 different donors in at least 20 states. NBC News added that if more than 20 candidates reach one of those two qualifications, the top 20 will be selected by using a separate method that rewards contenders for meeting both thresholds, followed by highest polling averages and then the most unique donors.
Following the two summer debates, the next ones will be held in September, October, November and December this year. The final debate is set for April 2020, about two months before the Democratic National Convention.
Here is Lack’s memo obtained by Deadline:
In case you haven’t seen it, the Democratic National Committee this afternoon announced that NBC News will host the first presidential primary debate of the 2020 cycle. This is a great testament to the hard work of the entire politics team, our commitment to dogged reporting, and the reach and influence of NBC News.
It’s no surprise. We’re firing on all cylinders – NBC News was the number one most-watched broadcast network for the 2019 State of the Union; TODAY, Nightly News, Dateline and Meet the Press all finished 2018 at number one; 2018 was also the best year in MSNBC’s history; NBC News Digital just had its best month ever, passing our competition, reaching more people than ever before; and Stay Tuned has become the go-to news brand for the younger generation, with more than 30 million people tuning in every month. Our investigative and political teams are breaking story after story and we continue to accelerate our investments in original content, new podcasts, OTT and long-form reporting all while solidifying and expanding our international footprint.
This unique debate will take place in June, over two consecutive nights because of the size of the field of contenders. It will be broadcast in prime time in two languages, across three networks: NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo, and will be available to viewers around the world on our digital platforms. In the coming months we will share more details, including exact dates, location and moderators.
Our coverage will reflect what the American people have come to expect of us: a substantive, rigorous, and inclusive examination of the candidates’ views across the most important issues.
This is a fantastic way for NBC News to head into the 2020 presidential cycle, and kick off what is sure to be a historic election.