Today at the Republican National Committee’s meeting in Boston, the RNC voted unanimously on a resolution not to partner with CNN and NBC in Republican presidential primary debates for the 2016 election cycle.
This was in response the networks’ plans to air lengthy programs on Hillary Clinton ahead of her presumed 2016 candidacy. NBC will air a miniseries starring Diane Lane; CNN is planning a documentary. Last week I sent both networks letters asking them to rethink their plans. I told them that if they did not, the RNC would choose not to sanction any Republican debates they hoped to host.
Both networks have decided to single out a candidate and spend millions to spotlight her. In all likelihood, the project will burnish her image. That’s the nature of such productions. Moreover, NBC deliberately stated their choice to run the program in the near future would avoid running afoul of equal time election laws.
Ultimately, the RNC’s decision is about fairness. This is the right thing to do for voters. They’re not going to get a real debate of substance if it’s run by a network who has decided promoting Hillary Clinton benefits their bottom line.
This also is the right thing to do for our candidates. They deserve a fair shake. We want to ensure moderators are going to ask fair and reasonable questions and facilitate a thoughtful conversation. Their credibility is dramatically diminished if that debate is aired on a network which has made an investment in an opposing party’s candidate.
Executives at NBC and CNN — some of whom have given generously to Democrats — have gone a step too far. Writers and commentators across the political spectrum have said these actions diminish the networks’ ability to say they are unbiased. It’s that real, reasonable concern for bias that led us to make our decision.
Our ultimate goal is to have debates that offer a look at our candidates, their visions, and their policies. Today’s resolution is just one step toward avoiding the traveling circus that was the 2012 primary debates. We want quality conversations that help voters make their decisions.