RNC moves to freeze out networks on debates
August 16th, 2013
12:08 PM ET
1 year ago

RNC moves to freeze out networks on debates

Boston (CNN) - The Republican National Committee approved a resolution Friday vowing to sideline CNN and NBC from the presidential primary debate process in 2016 unless the networks abandon plans to produce programs about Hillary Clinton.

CNN recently commissioned a documentary film about Clinton, the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state, that is scheduled to run in theaters and on CNN sometime in 2014.

NBC, meanwhile, is developing a dramatic miniseries about Clinton, who is considering a second presidential bid and would almost certainly enter the race as the Democratic frontrunner in 2016.

"For the first time our party rules allow us to take action on these debates. So it is time that we do what's right for our party and our candidates. And by the way, it is the right thing to do for our voters," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said at the meeting.

In a statement released after the vote, CNN responded: "CNN Films, a division of CNN Worldwide, commissioned a documentary about Hillary Clinton earlier this year. It is expected to premiere in 2014 with a theatrical run prior to airing on CNN. The CNN broadcast date has not been determined. This documentary will be a non-fiction look at the life of a former First Lady and Secretary of State. The project is in the very early stages of development, months from completion with most of the reporting and the interviewing still to be done. Therefore speculation about the final program is just that. We encouraged all interested parties to wait until the program premieres before judgments are made about it. Unfortunately, the RNC was not willing to do that."

The seven-point resolution, which passed by voice vote, describes the television projects as "little more than extended commercials promoting former Secretary Clinton," promises that the RNC "will neither partner with these networks in the 2016 presidential primary debates nor sanction any primary debates they sponsor" unless they halt production of the programs.

The language also notes that Robert Greenblatt, the chairman of NBC Entertainment, contributed to Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign and President Barack Obama's re-election bid in 2012.

The measure goes to the heart of what Republican insiders believe was a major problem for the party during the 2012 primary process – a marathon debate schedule that kept GOP candidates off the campaign trail and led several of them to make a string of damaging statements in full view of the national electorate.

Republican nominee Mitt Romney staked out hard-line immigration positions in several primary debates – he famously called for illegal immigrants to "self-deport" – and the comments were used against him to devastating effect by the Obama campaign during the general election.

A group of Republican officials who were asked to draft a post-election "autopsy" report and plot a path forward for the party called the number of primary debates in 2012 – 20 in all - "ridiculous."

The RNC "shall endeavor to bring more order to the primary debates and ensure a reasonable number of debates, appropriate moderators and debate partners are chosen, and that other issues pertaining to the general nature of such debates are addressed," Friday's resolution said.

The committee has no formal power to prevent Republican candidates from participating in network debates, but they could decide to enact penalties for candidates who might choose to ignore the resolution.

Before the vote, Priebus earned a standing ovation from the 168-member committee when he accused the two networks of "obvious bias" and said CNN and NBC "won't be hosting a single Republican primary debate."

"We're done putting up with this nonsense," he said. "There are plenty of other news outlets. We'll still reach voters. Maybe more voters. But CNN and NBC anchors will just have to watch on their competitors' networks."


Filed under: RNC
soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. O'drama ya Mama

    Remember this people when they complain about the turnout they get in 2016. Not only are they gerrymandering districts they are gerrymandering television networks. Pure genius!

    August 16, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  2. S.B. Stein

    Really? Is this the best that they have to complain about? From what I have heard about this already is that the NBC project is not a definite thing; word has it that the script hasn't been written yet which makes it easy to stop. The CNN project is a documentary from what I have read. That means it is supposed to be objective; more likely from CNN than Fox for sure.

    August 16, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  3. Malory Archer

    O'drama ya Mama

    Remember this people when they complain about the turnout they get in 2016.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    LOL!!! I'll be difficult to blame the Dems and the "librul media" when they get their backsides handed to them!

    August 16, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  4. rick7809

    I am sure the GOP just wants all of the presidential debates on "fair and balanced" Faux News and they are looking for some way to justify it.

    August 16, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    Yes. And the RNC would also like to have Limbaugh, Hannity, and other talk radio pundits moderate Republican debates, letting America know who is really running this rebranding effort now underway in the RNC.

    Limbaugh / Hannity / AquaBuddha / Ayn Rand ... 2016 and beyond.

    There is not enough popcorn in the world to cover what is happening within the Grand Old Party.

    August 16, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. Malory Archer

    Fair is Fair

    Malory Archer

    And they weren't doing it prior to 2008. Yeah, and maybe a monkey will fly out of my backside.
    --
    Senator Obama was outraged. President Obama is cool with it.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    In other words, President Obama isn't the "librul" your ilk paints him to be. Thanks for pointing that out!

    August 16, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    LOL!!!! Nose. Spite. Face.

    August 16, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  8. john

    It's about time. I never understood why the republicans always went into the "lions den." They need to keep to the outlets that share their beliefs.

    August 16, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  9. sonny chapman

    Technically, this is not an attempt to suppress Free Speech under the First Amendment, but this does violate the "Spirit of Free Speech" which makes America unique. The Party that considers itself More American or More Christian is, in fact, NEITHER.

    August 16, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    "People get out of poverty by having opportunities to find private sector jobs created by Americans who have the opportunity to take risks and build businesses. The more the Dems grow Govt the less the private sector has to create real jobs."

    Hey, Rob. I'm still waiting on the Republican Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! mantra of ... wait for it ... 2010 to take effect. Boehner's promises were iffy at best. We lost a lot of government jobs since (both federal and state) but we haven't really seen much of an uptick in the private sector. I suppose if we were to give out more corporate tax cuts the CEOs would be more willing to hire? Then again ... we've been there, done that ... with little to show for a growing job market regardless.

    August 16, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  11. ST

    Preibus said: " It is time to do what is right to do for our Party and our candidates. And by the way, it is the right thing to do for our voters". Boy, what is wrong with this man? Wherever any republican is, must wake up and kick out this man away, if at all you want at a certain time hold the White House. Doesn't this man know that the Party has lost the election in two times consecutively, one after the other? Should he now work just for only the base and don't expand it in order to win? Myself as a Dem am so pleased of what he is doing, though at the same time am dying to see the real opposition from the opposite side, for the sake of the survival of the country.

    August 16, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  12. Blake

    Interesting. So essentially this is the way this is going to play out:

    – The documentries/mini-series about Clinton are going to go ahead anyways.
    – Politically this looks bad for conservatives. Basically the RNC is saying "If you make specials about anyone of high profile with a (D) next to their name, we can't take it and were going to take out ball and go home. " It makes the RNC look weak. childish and intolerant of different view points and trying to micro manage the media through blackmail. I never heard Pres Barack Obama, Sen McCain, Gov Romney or the RNC/DNC ever complain seriously about programs outside or inside an election year about rivals.
    – This controversy will probably give these programs more ratings/viewers than they would have ever had if the RNC didn't make a fuss. If they are viewed by a majority of people as being balance, the optics of the controversy will get even worse for the RNC. Also high ratings means that CNN/NBC didn't need the GOP debate special anyways lol.
    – The RNC will still get debate exposure, but the direction their going, along with these actions will just turn off the majority of voters, while making their base...who already vote for them but can't deliver alone, estatic. This whole thing plays into the left's depiction of the right as "Wanting to supress and close off voters from different view points, rather than gaining voters by apealling to voters or winning debates on factual/good policy points."

    August 16, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    Meanwhile, the conservative activist universe's head is exploding over the possibility that Faux News might place Megyn Kelly in Hannity's time slot...and they are angrily lambasting Faux for this "leftward shift" because she is "pro gay" (she has expressed support in the past for gay marriage). Apparently, the Teatrolls have no problem with grossly biased, skewed, spun, slanted, fabrication-laden reporting...so long as it favors them.

    August 16, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  14. Robert

    Double down on the derp GOP because it helped you sooo much in 2012! Good news for Democrats though because apparently their policy of no-action except whine will see them lose again in 16.

    August 16, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  15. Wake up People!

    Thank you RNC!!

    August 16, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  16. Steveo

    @Sniffit

    LOL!!!! Nose. Spite. Face.
    ------–
    Agreement! Bad move! This has the potential to backfire badly! I will also add, this is a juvenile move!

    August 16, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  17. I'm NOT a liberal

    Feinstein refused to debate her opponent in California. The arrogance of the left is astounding.

    August 16, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. Data Driven

    This is dumb, even by GOP standards. Why on earth would you boycott networks that would cover your primary debates?

    By the way, I think Democrats should appear on Fox, and I hope their debates are broadcasted there. More exposure equals more coverage, and more coverage usually equals more votes.

    August 16, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  19. Steveo

    @Malory Archer

    Fair is Fair

    Malory Archer

    And they weren't doing it prior to 2008. Yeah, and maybe a monkey will fly out of my backside.
    -
    Senator Obama was outraged. President Obama is cool with it.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    In other words, President Obama isn't the "librul" your ilk paints him to be. Thanks for pointing that out!
    -------
    I bettin' it is due to the access he has to information as president that he didn't have as a senator.

    August 16, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. rs

    The Hillary "documentaries" simply aren't a good idea, and need to be aired on cable, shown in theaters or simply go away.
    However, The GOP could be harming their own campain efforts if their debates (hopefully not moderated by Mr. Limbaugh) presumably only appear on Fox. They will be "singing to the choir" as it were.
    Someone above astutely noted- mark this date- they'll wonder why their turn out goes down again- that is providing they find some real candidates and issues and put the radical rabble and their fake revolutionary jargon back in the closet.

    August 16, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  21. mimins4

    RNC...why don't you come up with some new ideas...instead blaming the networks for your party poor standing.

    August 16, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. rs

    john

    It's about time. I never understood why the republicans always went into the "lions den." They need to keep to the outlets that share their beliefs.
    ______________________________
    I understand what you're saying John, but the GOP, if they are serious about outreach, have to be seen on channels and venues where their ideas and debates can get exposure. If they stay on Fox – that may wind up being the whole universe of their voters- and they won't moderate, and they won't win.

    August 16, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. Tony

    RNC, if you want to win again, you need to reach outside your base. You already have a lock on people who watch FOX News, and it is clear that there are not enough of them to help Republicans win in a general election. They can't even stop Romney from winning the Republican primary.

    August 16, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. joedog

    Priebus said that the networks have, quote, "an obvious bias." This is not news. It is old news. Bias? Absolutely so.

    August 16, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  25. kirk

    Well here it is, the gop mantra in full swing, we either get to control every aspect, or were not going to participate. Sounds familiar to me, last five years anyone? They want to know every time Hillary or Obama pass gas.noe they want to hide your agenda, a little late for that. Hoe can anyone in their right minds buy this garbage? These fools have lost their frigging minds! Talk about denial: holy crap, they certainly didn't lose because they stamd only for the rich, no no, that can't be it.what could it be.... hum.this is too good to be true.un frickin believable

    August 16, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
1 2 3 4 5