First you should note that this is an in-house debate. I really don’t care what Chris Matthews, or anyone else at MSNBC thinks. I also don’t care what CNN, CNBC, ABC, or their grown up brother Comedy Central think. They hate us, hate our candidates, and wish we would all shut up so the responsible adults can legalize and privilege the next sexual deviancy that makes their leg twitch while outlawing the right to choose your own health insurance. They don’t care about our policy, only how much advertising space they can sell. They will continue to set up our candidates to look like swine while the Democrats look civilized.
Here is what you need to do: Ask the candidates who their preferred moderators are. Let them each give a list of up to 10 names. Rank the names so that the moderators chosen by the most candidates are preferred. Invite the top choices to moderate the debates. Invitees are allowed to accept or reject, doesn’t matter because if they reject you go to the next best choice. If none of the chosen people are willing to moderate than ask candidates for a new list. Host the debate yourself. Live stream it for free. Sell the right to cable distribution to a single network (Fox, MSNBC, CNN, I don’t care at this point because they are no longer running the show, merely broadcasting it). Now the debate will be paid for by the distribution network, and the moderator is someone actually interested in our candidates. Will the ratings be lower? I don’t care. If a network (MSNBC) objects to the additional live-streaming then fine, they can choose not to submit a bid. You set the rules (2 or 3 hours, with or without speeches, threshold to participate, etc.) and the candidates know at the beginning of the season. Even if nobody distributes the debate (unlikely) it is still available on YouTube.
It really isn’t that hard. There is a thing called an “internet” (or was it a web?) that might one day allow you to distribute videos without CNBC’s approval. Use that to your advantage