Trump to CNN: Give Debate Revenue to Vets

Image: U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks in New York
U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks in New York September 3, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson LUCAS JACKSON / Reuters

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By Ali Vitali

Donald Trump wants CNN to pay it forward.

In a letter sent to CNN President Jeff Zucker on Tuesday, Trump asked that ad revenue generated from the news channel's upcoming presidential debate be donated to veterans groups, the names of which Trump promised would be sent in a forthcoming list.

“I believe that all profits from this broadcast should go to various VETERANS groups,” Trump wrote. “The veterans of our country, our finest people, have been treated horribly by the government and it's ‘all talk and no action’ politicians.”

Believing that increases in ad rates are due to his celebrity and mass appeal, Trump noted that he is self-funding his presidential campaign and that CNN should view their role in the political contest with similar benevolence. Trump asked that Zucker treat the debate as “a public service” from which CNN should “not accept the massive profits that this airing will generate.”

This is not the first time Trump has bragged about what his presence in the race has meant for media companies. The first GOP debate drew an unexpectedly large viewing audience of nearly 24 million – a statistic that Trump placed front and center in his letter to CNN arguing for their donation.

“While I refuse to brag, and as you know very well, this tremendous increase in viewer interest and advertising is due 100% to ‘Donald J. Trump,’” the letter reads.

Trump previously floated the idea of CNN donating money to charities at an Iowa rally last month. In Dubuque, he said: “I should go to CNN, they're doing the next debate, and I should say to Jeff Zucker, a great guy, Jeff I'm gonna do the debate but I want 10 million dollars for charity, American Cancer Society, AIDS research, we'll pick 10 great, a million, otherwise I'm not going to the debate — and honestly I think they'd pay me.”

With this latest letter, Trump is now making good on that promise to ask.