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CNN's Crush on Hillary Clinton Spells Trouble For 2016 Presidential Candidates

Recently, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus stood up to NBC and CNN’s open bias in favor of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after he learned that both stations would air a miniseries and film, respectively, about Clinton, ahead of the 2016 election. Giving all this airtime to Clinton means that she will enter into 2016 with a lot of support, and any other Democratic presidential contenders will be at a severe disadvantage. Many Americans believe it is wrong for supposedly unbiased news stations to actively support presidential candidates over others.

Firstly, there is no question that Clinton is running in 2016. You have surely seen the “Ready for Hillary” ads everywhere. When you scroll to the bottom of this site, there is a small label that says “Powered by NGP VAN.” For those who are unfamiliar, NGP VAN describes itself as “the leading technology provider to Democratic and progressive campaigns and organizations.” It services all of the Democratic committees, “almost all the Democratic State Parties, and international parties like the Liberal Party of Canada,” not to mention almost all Democratic members of the House and Senate. Accordingly, it seems the Democratic establishment is already fully on board for Clinton in 2016.

Therefore, NBC and CNN’s respective and almost simultaneous decisions (announcements of each occurred within two days of each other) to spotlight Clinton seem a little too “coincidental.” Positive or neutral airtime is the goal of every presidential candidate, as candidates need media exposure in order to be able to appeal to public. CNN's documentary on Clinton is expected to air in 2014 and "will be a non-fiction look at the life of a former first lady and secretary of state." This certainly does not sound as though it will take a negative approach to Clinton's life, meaning that it will give this 2016 hopeful extensive positive or neutral airtime. NBC's four-part miniseries will star Diane Lane as Clinton. Both these projects appear to show Clinton in a favorable light.

More importantly, however, giving Clinton all this airtime will mean any Democrat who would like to run for president in 2016 will be at a severe disadvantage. That is, unless NBC and CNN decide to run documentaries about them, too, which is highly doubtful. NBC and CNN are supposedly unbiased news stations, and as such, they are fully aware of the potential effects of promoting Clinton in this manner. Their denial of this is disingenuous. 

This is why Priebus sent two respectful, but firm, letters to NBC and CNN. In both, he acknowledges that as American companies, both networks have the right to air programming of their choice. However, Priebus goes on to state that, as American citizens, they must understand why many are astounded at their actions, “which appear to be” major networks’ “thinly-veiled attempt[s] at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election.”  He explains that NBC and CNN’s actions are unfair to any potential 2016 contender, both Democrat and Republican, and that the actions of both networks are “disappointing.”

Priebus is right to take a stand here. NBC and CNN acting in extremely unfair and partisan manners. These networks have huge influence over America, and have an arguable ethical duty to give every 2016 contender in both parties equal treatment, being as they are news networks. Priebus argues that CNN and NBC’s displays of “political favoritism” will “jeopardize [their] credibility” as “supposedly unbiased news network[s],” as what both networks intend to do boils down to airing “extended commercial[s]” for Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

For these reasons, Priebus called on both networks to pull their respective programming prior to the RNC’s summer meeting, set to commence on August 14. Otherwise, he asserted he will “seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with [NBC nor CNN] in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates which [NBC nor CNN] sponsor.”

Even NBC’s own political director, Chuck Todd, said that NBC’s Clinton miniseries is a “total nightmare’"for the network’s news division. “MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell also called the Clinton miniseries "a really bad idea." Other NBC correspondents have called the decision an "ethical nightmare." CNN's own Candy Crowley isn't a fan of CNN's Clinton film either. NBC and CNN should consider listening to their own people on this one.

This is a flatly American issue on which Priebus is standing firmly. All Americans should demand unbiased news networks act in unbiased manners. All Americans have good reason to condone Priebus’s efforts in favor of unbiased and ethical media. While it is clear that the Democratic establishment has decided to favor Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, in effect writing off every other Democratic candidate before they have the opportunity to make their respective cases to the voters, there is no reason NBC and CNN need to follow suit. 

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