NEW YORK — Donald Trump has called on CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker to give profits from the network's Sept. 16 Republican debate to veterans groups, according to a letter his campaign released Wednesday.
“I am self funding my campaign—I do not want money from lobbyists, donors or special interest groups,” Trump wrote. “Likewise, you should view the second debate broadcast as a public service and not accept the massive profits that this airing will generate.”
Trump is never shy about boasting of his ability to drive ratings, telling Zucker that his presence is responsible for CNN reportedly seeking 40 times more for a 30-second ad spot during the debate than on an average night. The first Republican debate, on Fox News, set an all-time primary debate record with 24 million viewers, and the second contest could top even that.
A CNN spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump has been considering this proposal for at least the past month. In an August Time magazine cover story, the Republican front-runner wondered aloud whether CNN would give millions of dollars in profits to charity if he made it a condition of appearing on the network:
“Here’s my question: So if I go to CNN and I say, Look, you’re going to have a massive audience, and if I say to them, I want $10 million for charity, nothing for myself, what happens? I’m not showing up, right?” he says. It’s a rhetorical question, the wheels of entrepreneurship are turning, the joy of being Trump dancing on his face. “I’m not showing up unless you give $10 million to cancer, to this, to that. You pick 10 great charities, $1 million per.” He’s not sure just how far the rules of democracy can bend, how big his ambitions can grow. “If I’m in it, they’ll get this crazy audience, and they’re going to make a fortune since they’re selling commercials every time we take a break. Would you ever say to them, would you ever say, I want $10 million for AIDS research, for cancer, for this type or not, or is it too cute?”
In the letter to Zucker, however, Trump focused on veterans groups as the potential beneficiaries. “This large contribution of many millions of dollars would be a truly wonderful thing for CNN to do,” he wrote.
Here's the letter in full: