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. rs

    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.
    A very valid point. The MSM will report what the Republicans do and say, but without the context of the whole or original broadcast. Which *might* be quite potent.

    August 16, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. Howard's Daddy

    Oh well. It's a good comedy show but not all that important.

    August 16, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    "My political leanings don't have the priority in my life. My Christian faith does. That is what colors my opinions."

    Well said, Steveo. I respect your opinion for speaking out thus.

    August 16, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  4. Colleen Ann

    I sure hope CNN and NBC are not going to let the RNC dictate to them what then can and cannot do.......I enjoy watching CNN because they are a FAIR network I would hate to see the RNC run the CNN network like they do FOX.

    August 16, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. PRF Accounting and Tax

    So basically the Republican Nation Committee is threatened by a democrat getting publicity and a women at that .... So much for freedom of speech, equal rights, and women' rights! Just like the republican party to wish women back into the kitchen barefoot and pregnant!! I hope that some simple threat doesn't keep these networks from producing news worthy information and if the network gets threaten by any political party they should sue them rightfully to protect freedom of speech!

    August 16, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  6. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Hey GOP morons, you have no creditibility anyway and nobody is going to vote for you except for your brain dead stupid fox watchers, GOP idiots , can't wait till you get blown out in the midterms and 2016, GOP losers the most hated political fake party in the USA!!!!!

    August 16, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. Doyle Wiley, MI

    RNC, I believe you will find your audience will be much, much smaller.

    August 16, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. prtyfedup

    Why would anyone even consider voting for a woman who sold her soul to Obama, assisted in the lies around the deaths of Americans in Benghazi, and on and on? You have to either be deaf/dumb/blind, or mentally ill. She is a liar, a conspirator, a traitor, and an accomplice to murder. She should be tried for all of those crimes and so should Obama.

    August 16, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. rob

    How about a four part series on what really happened in Benghazi and Hillary Clinton's involvement? How about an in depth series to follow up on the NYT's Clinton foundation article? (you won't hear much more about it) The point here is that the media is in a love fest with Hillary. They will not be honest in their reporting if it might hurt her politically and when CNN and NBC plan these types of programing no one can expect anything other than fluff. I agree with Priebus, he has to point out the obvious slant the Dems get in the big TV networks.

    August 16, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. Malory Archer

    Fair is Fair

    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.


    Perhaps he wasn't privy to all the intel that the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the house/senate intelligence committees had at their disposal. For the record, I was against domestic spying long before President Obama was elected, and I'll be against domestic spying long after he's gone. If you were against it all along, you should thank God for President Obama, because had the also-rans won in 2008 or 2012, you would be called an enemy of the state and that guy ann coulter would have suggested that harm should come to you for having the audacity to question them – on the off chance this information would have come to light of course.

    August 16, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. stars

    This just prove that they are afraid of Hillary. They can run it on cable channel like HBO, Own, Bet, tv one and all of the latino channel.

    August 16, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. Gary Michael

    Is the RNC trying to blackmail CNN and NBC? Do they care about all Americans ?

    August 16, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. Malory Archer


    Is this blackmail ?????


    Only if the those networks kowtow to them.

    August 16, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  14. Just a thought

    Steveo said,
    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.
    Wait as a Christian, who does that comport with the racially biased part of your conservative base? Do you get out there and say to other conservatives that we are to love all of God's children (everybody), Black, White, Gay, straight, no matter one's religion or creed. We are love each other as Christ loved us – right? You must really be conflicted...I feel for you in your fence straddling in your tacit support (thru apathy) of the hate within your party ranks which then directly conflicts with your faith.Wow I got confused just stating this...can't imagine what its like for you

    August 16, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  15. Lost Their Minds

    The GOP has lost its ever loving mind...this proves it! This will divide the nation even further, making the GOP even more unpopular. Buh-bye GOP. It was nice knowing you.

    August 16, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  16. Lynda/Minnesota

    "My political leanings don't have the priority in my life. My Christian faith does. That is what colors my opinions."

    Interesting that my previous comment directed to you has vanished. I would like to say (and did say) "well said" to you, Steveo.

    Hopefully this comment will get posted. : )

    August 16, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  17. Steve

    Maybe the GOP should just look at NBC and CNN as the Koch Brothers of the Democratic party. Or is the GOP the only party that is allowed to stretch the rules and create new laws to try to win elections?

    August 16, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  18. prtyfedup

    I don't necessarily agree with the boycott however, the lies and edited versions of things conservatives say on these other networks along with the horrible commentary by their journalistic points of view, at this point go for it. And let's not mention the fact anyone who would even consider voting for Hillary has to be either deaf/dumb/blind, very uninformed, or something is wrong with the brain. She is an accomplice to murder, sold her soul to have this opportunity taking the position she did with Obama, a liar, and a horrible all around person. Who in their right mind would vote for this disgusting human being?

    August 16, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  19. vic

    Fox can hold the debates..the RND and GOP live in a bubble and the rest of us won't have to hear their pathetic do nothing messages!!!!

    August 16, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. TomC

    The Rs get crazier and more paranoid every day.

    August 16, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. quinLee

    The RNC better Rinse Priebus out before he leaves a stain that can't be removed.

    August 16, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  22. MaryM

    Wow, talk about freightened republicans, You better get your act together and get rid of the Reince and the tea people before the republican party goes the way of the dinosaurs

    August 16, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  23. john47822

    I'm a registered Republican and usually vote for what I think is the best person, Republican or Democrat. The RNC has turned me off because the House refuses to do anything in the Obama years and now they are tuning away the CNN and NBC viewers. Guess what, I listen to both of them and I don't like it one bit. Sorry RNC, you will have absolutely no chance of me voting Republican for now on, unless they change their stupidity. Straight Democrat line for me for now on, even if it is not the best person. By By RNC, idiots!

    August 16, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  24. pjoe

    Obama freezes out networks too.

    August 16, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  25. Name Texan 72

    This is a gift to the Democrats !

    August 16, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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