RNC threat to networks over Hillary Clinton programs: Is it wise? Is it real?
Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman, warned CNN and NBC that if they don't cancel plans for programs on Hillary Clinton they could lose out on GOP primary debate coverage.
The head of the Republican National Committee (RNC) has threatened to ban CNN and NBC from 2016 GOP primary debate coverage if they do not drop two Hillary Clinton projects that are in the works – a move dubbed both hasty and unwise by political and media observers.Skip to next paragraph
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NBC has plans for a miniseries starring Diane Lane, while CNN is acquiring a feature-length documentary that will run theatrically before airing on the cable channel. Both are planned to air well in advance of the 2016 election – a race in which Ms. Clinton is assumed by many to be running.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus calls both projects thinly veiled attempts to put a “thumb on the scale” for the 2016 election. He informed each network by letter that if they have not agreed to pull the programming prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meeting Aug. 14, he will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with either in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates that they sponsor.
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The move is contrary to the best interests of voters, CNN suggested.
"Instead of making premature decisions about a project that is in the very early stages of development and months from completion, we would encourage the members of the Republican National Committee to reserve judgment until they know more," the network said in a statement Monday afternoon.
NBC, meanwhile, appeared to sidestep the issue. Spokeswoman Liz Fischer said in an e-mail that the following is NBC’s only comment on the RNC threat: “NBC News is completely independent of NBC Entertainment and has no involvement in this project.”
The NBC project will be handled by the entertainment division. Political debates are typically covered by the news division.
While many miniseries and TV movies have ruffled feathers of both political parties in the past – and networks have changed plans in response (think CBS shuffling “The Reagans” over to Showtime back in 2003) – there is little precedent for this current brinkmanship.