The Trump-Pence Battle Playing Out This Week

From CNN’s Reliable Sources with Oliver Darcy:

A split-screen is about to play out this week.

On Monday night, former Vice President Mike Pence kicked off his book tour, appearing for a candid sit-down with ABC News’ David Muir in which he forcefully denounced his former boss, ex-President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, Trump is set to announce on Tuesday night from his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach that he will run for president in 2024.

It’s an unprecedented situation unfolding on television screens: A former president announcing another bid for the White House as his former vice president criticizes him on a high-profile national media tour.

In his interview with Muir, which aired in part on “World News Tonight” and will air in full during a one-hour special on ABC at 10pm, Pence laced into Trump for “reckless” behavior on January 6 which he said endangered the lives of himself and his family. Pence added that the country will “have better choices in the future” to elect to the nation’s highest office and said he, himself, is mulling whether to challenge Trump for the job.

It’s just the first of many media appearances Pence is set to make this week. Pence also appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show Monday night in which did — oh so lightly — criticize Trump. And on Wednesday, the night after Trump makes his big announcement, Pence will appear on CNN for a town hall moderated by Jake Tapper.

The split-screen will put on full display the ugly fight that is set to once again play out in the Republican Party: The Trump wing versus everyone else.

“Covering Trump on Tuesday will not just be about covering a former president’s ambition or his political plans,” CBS News’ Robert Costa told Vanity Fair’s Charlotte Klein in a piece published Monday. “It’s going to be about covering a reckoning inside the Republican Party about its future, and how it feels about former President Trump.”

Trump’s run for the White House will test news organizations in a significant way. The first challenge: Will networks take his speech on Tuesday night? If so, how much? And what about Fox News? Will the right-wing cable giant break into its regular prime time programming for Trump, or will the Rupert Murdoch-owned outlet give the cold shoulder to him? (I asked Fox News spokespeople, but they didn’t return my email seeking comment.)

These types of high-stakes decisions will show just how much time and space news organizations — still reeling from the mistakes of the 2016 campaign — are willing to cede to the twice-impeached former president. On one hand, he is the former president and defacto leader of the GOP. On the other, he continues to undermine American democracy with dangerous misinformation.

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