The Republican National Committee made good on its promise to boycott networks planning Hillary Clinton specials. Party leaders meeting in Boston voted unanimously Friday not to partner with NBC, CNN or any of their affiliates for Republican presidential debates in the upcoming 2016 election cycle. Chairman Reince Priebus first made the threat in letters to CNN and NBC execs after news that both networks were planning features about Hillary Clinton — CNN, a documentary and NBC, a dramatic miniseries.
Priebus accused both networks of boosting the former first lady and former secretary of state, who is expected to run for president in 2016. He repeated the claim in his prepared remarks Friday: "They're not going to get a real debate of substance if it's run by a network who wants to help out Hillary Clinton."
NBC and CNN pushed back on the RNC's initial accusations, both calling its concerns "premature" and refusing to cancel their plans. (NBC conceded its special may not even be made). However, the RNC found some unlikely allies, with liberal pundits and NBC reporters criticizing the productions. NBC execs have argued their series would be made by its entertainment department and have no influence on its news division, but Friday, Priebus pointed to rumors that "30 Rock" star Alec Baldwin may be getting his own MSNBC show as evidence those lines were blurred.
Already concerns have arisen how the Republican Party will reach out to the growing Latino community, which voted overwhelmingly for President Obama in 2012, as the RNC has confirmed that the boycott will apply to NBC's and CNN's Spanish-language channels as well. Univision, being the other major Spanish news channel left, may be the biggest winner here.
Others have pointed out that holding less debates may be an advantage for Republicans. Some have argued that the 20-plus presidential debates in 2012 ultimately hurt the GOP. "There are plenty of other outlets," Priebus said Friday. "We'll still reach voters, maybe more voters. But CNN and NBC anchors will just have to watch on their competitors' networks."