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More reasons Trump-Sanders debate might blow up politics as we know it

Fox News host Bret Baier confirmed Friday that talks are under way about a possible extracurricular political mano-a-mano that would cap an anti-establishment primary season.

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    In this photo provided by ABC, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump talks with host Jimmy Kimmel (right) on the ABC television show, "Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” on May 25. Trump opened the door to a possible debate against Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.
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It’s still possible Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are actually going to debate. Fox News is talking with both the Sanders and Trump camps and hopes to get a deal for a joint appearance prior to the June 7 California primary.

“Those things are progressing believe it or not…. Some event will happen before the primary, we’re kind of working out the details,” Fox anchor Bret Baier said Friday during an interview on WMAL radio’s Brian Wilson.

It’s possible the show will be more of a dual town hall than an actual debate, Mr. Baier added. Asked whether the deal would produce millions of dollars for charity, the Fox host said that was under discussion. Mr. Trump has said that he’d debate Senator Sanders if it raised $10 million for good works. It remains unclear whether Trump is serious about this or is treating the whole thing as something of a joke.

Sanders is treating it seriously, though. The Democratic presidential candidate has started field-testing questions for his Republican counterpart during his own stump speeches, such as, “Why do you think climate change is a hoax?”

He’s “excited” about the possible debate, Sanders told ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Thursday night.

“But we will see if [Trump] stays with it,” Sanders added.

Mr. Kimmel is kind of the go-between here. He’s the one who asked Trump on Wednesday if he’d agree to such an extracurricular political mano-a-mano. That’s what got this ball of wax rolling downhill.

A talk show host brokering what could be one of the most exciting, if not revealing, encounters in the late 2016 primary campaign? Why not? As we wrote yesterday, a Trump-Sanders showdown would blow up a lot of what we think we know about US politics. Kimmel’s role would be just another reason why.

Let’s tick through some others: The political parties are supposed to control debates. This would contravene that. Presumptive nominees aren’t supposed to diminish their standing by engaging the other side’s second-place finishers. That’s what this debate would be. Losers are supposed to fade away gracefully. Yes, Sanders has almost certainly lost – but “fade away” isn’t happening.

A Sanders-Trump debate might be the logical endpoint for a strongly anti-establishment primary season. It’s politics as entertainment – or entertainment as politics, which isn’t quite the same thing. We think.

“This is where we are now. The serious bumping right up to the comedic, almost every day – and late night – leaving some entertained, but perhaps even more of us confused,” writes NPR’s Sam Sanders.

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