RNC moves to freeze out networks on debates
August 16th, 2013
12:08 PM ET
5 years 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. Fair is Fair

    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!
    Liberal vs. conservative isn't the issue. The issue is that as a senator, he got his panties all in a bunch over something he had little to no understanding about.

    August 16, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. Just a thought

    Steveo, how does a phoney "in = depends" like you make a decision who to support without hearing their platforms? Oh that's right "both parties do it" so if you screw up you can claim a lack of information/details. I get it.

    August 16, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. RF

    GOP still does not get it. IT"S THE MESSAGE STUPID! Blaming everyone else for the stupid comments of your own candidates is no ones fault but the stupid candidates. Keep changing the rules and the GOP will find them selves backed into a corner marginalized by the very zealots that are destroying their own party.

    August 16, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  4. jjt35

    This is GREAT NEWS! I can't think of a better way for the Republican party to show the other 50+% of the country that they could care less about them, appealing to them, or care about representing them. They are singularly focused on their "base" and not bringing in others or expanding their tent. And I have got to say that is going to make for some great TV. Can you just imagine the bats- crazy stuff that is going to come out of those debates inside the bubble with no reason to consider alternate views? I can't wait. Where's my popcorn?

    August 16, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  5. CK

    This is great news! Debates are a waste of time anyway. Just staged to get free TV time for the candidates. Maybe we could convince them to boycott all of the networks, although it might be hard to get them off of their shill network, Fox.

    August 16, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  6. sonny chapman

    Hey Repubs.; you're providing an excellent example to Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Syrai & all aspiring Democracies out there about how to be mature in dealing with your political adversaries.

    August 16, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  7. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    The RNC said.... Uh, Who cares?

    August 16, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. Just a thought

    Doggone "librul lamestream media" they want to publicize who really dumb our policies are to the electorate. When that happens we lose.....Ok ...let's hide in our faux news clown bubble...yeah, that's the ticket. This is too much for any rationale person to comprehend; except deploying the K.I.S.S strategy for the genius Tea Troll base

    August 16, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. mungo

    The Republican party hatred of the US media is unAmerican.

    August 16, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. ericck1

    now the Gop is the big bully trying to stop freedom of speech

    August 16, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  11. Bessy

    Is this blackmail ?????

    August 16, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  12. kirk

    Its all about inclusion. They must have some radical voter I.d. laws coming, they know they cannot win wiyhbtheir base alone, not even close. This is going to get interesting before its done.best to recognize this for what it is.another attempt at making excuses for what they plan on doing, I think its safe to day nothing is off limits here

    August 16, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  13. PJ

    Preibus should have said "for the first time our party rules allow us to" manipulate the debates, dictate to the
    news media, and rig the votes.
    So, why isn't Faux included if they produce one or both of these films and distribute them? Because
    they are the only "friends" Republicans have, and that isn't much to crow about.

    August 16, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. Bill

    Good luck GOP. Maybe you can debate only on Faux News. The GOP, as always, comes across like a whiny, snout-nosed little whelp.

    August 16, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  15. greasemonkey

    Perhaps if the GOP could move beyond their delusions of persecution, and actually come up with some ideas that don't nauseate everyone but the far right.....they might have a shot at becoming a legitimate party again........

    August 16, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. Lynda/Minnesota

    "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?"

    Rather childish of them, but nevertheless a new GOP standard. I would be shocked if my fellow citizens (left, right, and in between) thought otherwise of this new and less improved Grand Old Party of tantrums and foot stomping theatrics.

    August 16, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. Steveo

    @Data Driven


    I'm glad you're here, because you're a conservative who engages rather than name-calls. However, as a liberal myself, I'd actually prefer it if you argued the conservative side more often. Yeah, there's equivalence, but most of the time one side is wrong about something. It's like you have an addiction to equivalence, like to cigarettes. I'd like to hear why my liberal views are wrong! Cheers, DD.
    Thanks for the kind words. I don't believe every that comes out of a conservatives mouth is right, just like I don't feel everything that comes out of the mouth of a liberal is wrong! My political leanings don't have the priority in my life. My Christian faith does. That is what colors my opinions. I guess I don't have to mention how I feel about abortions and gay marriage BUT that does not give me the right to shout people down or mistreat folks over it either. This the primary reason I take issue with Rudy NYC when he tries to label me as a liberterian! I'll give you an example. I believe in personal responsibility but that is not an excuse to mistreat the poor! So is that liberal or conservative ideology? Does that neatly fit into any box? I don't think it does.

    August 16, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. Just a thought

    Ahhh....booboo the fool PR Bus wants to take his little ball and go home. Good riddens bub

    August 16, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  19. underwaterops

    Love it.

    Now ban CBS and ABC, leaving only Fox. Fox is the mostly highly watched (sometimes) channel on cable – and is watched 100% by the extreme right. Moderates, independents, and liberals do not watch Fox.

    So the candidates will feel free to give Romney-at-the-private-luncheon style answers during the primary, have them picked up and broadcast under fair-use rules by CNN, NBC, ABC, and locals – insuring that the most right wing Republicans will win the primary, then have to face down the comments when the general election arrives.

    And then ..... no pretension by the far right candidate, who will be convinced he should compromise nor deny (unlike Romney.)

    Inside the bubble, no on can hear you scream but others in the bubble.

    And meanwhile, a centrist candidate will sweep up. And Clinton is centrist to independents and moderates, and only a left wing liberal to the right wing extremists.

    August 16, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. Just a thought

    I for one will be disappointed to not see the perfunctory GOP/tea troll clown car coming to a tv channel near me...guess it'll just be Dem candidates acceptance speeches...which is fine by me

    August 16, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. Todd


    These networks are partial to a party, despite claiming neutrality.

    What an embarrassment when Candy Crowley, wrongly took up the lie of Barrack Obama and stunned Mitt Romney during the debate.

    Now they are choosing, to do TV promos for the Democrat party during an election year.

    Why? Why must the Democrats always ignore facts?

    August 16, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. rob

    @sonny chapman
    The unfortunate thing is that CNN, NBC and the other liberal media are the Republicans "..political adversaries."

    CNN and the cable version of NBC have been in ratings free fall for years because of the not so hidden liberal agenda they portray. Candy Crowley's performance during the Presidential debates is a perfect example of why the Republicans don't get a fair hearing from the supposed objective moderators.

    August 16, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. Just a thought

    I am ROTFLMAO....This pathetic losers don't want the public realize 1) They don't have anyone worthy of accomplishments, except organizing Tea Troll hate-fests and 2) if their ideas were put on the national stage, they lose....Well, who can argue that the only place for the GOP/Tea Bagger movement is Faux news and fools? Maintain the bigot base

    August 16, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  24. Todd


    These networks are partial to a party, despite claiming neutrality.

    What an embarrassment when Candy Crowley, wrongly took up the lie of BO and stunned Mitt during the debate.

    Now they are choosing, to do TV promos for the Democrat party during an election year.

    Why? Why must the Democrats always ignore facts?

    August 16, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. labman57

    Hmmm. Should the RNC encourage CNN, NBC, and other broadcast and cable networks to participate in sponsoring and covering the Republican primary debates?

    Nah, why bother trying to inform the general electorate about your policy positions and strive to provide compelling reasons why you are the best candidate from EITHER party ... when you can preach to the right wing choir instead.

    No problem. Comedy Central and SNL will most likely provide their own recap of these 'right wing hug fests' that will be just as insightful and a whole lot more entertaining.

    Furthermore, any network that airs a mini-series on Hillary Clinton must be shunned and boycotted, but it's completely irrelevant that the parent company of FOX News may actually produce said series.

    File this under "a distinction without a difference".
    Once again, Republican hypocrisy rears its ever-present, ugly head.

    August 16, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
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