The Republican National Committee (RNC) is planning to effectively exclude NBC and CNN from hosting the 2016 Presidential primary debates if the two networks go forward with plans to air major productions that commemorate the career of Hillary Clinton.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus released open letters to both networks Monday, claiming the lionizing of an active career politician represents an “in-kind donation” that (further) jeopardizes their journalistic credibility.
There’s ample cause for concern. Executives and employees of Comcast, NBC’s parent company, have been generous supporters of Democrats and Secretary Clinton. David Cohen, Comcast’s EVP, raised over $1.4 million from President Obama’s reelection efforts and hosted a fundraiser for the president. Comcast Corp. employees have donated $522,996 to the president and donated $161,640 to Secretary Clinton’s previous campaigns.
Your company has expressly stated that your choice to air the miniseries in the near future would avoid concerns of running afoul of equal time election laws. This suggests a deliberate attempt at influencing American political opinion in favor of a preferred candidate, not to mention a guilty conscience.
…I find this disturbing and disappointing. NBC cannot purport to be a neutral party in American politics, and the credibility of NBC News, already damaged by the partisanship of MSNBC, will be further undermined by the actions of NBC Universal executives who have taken it upon themselves to produce an extended commercial for Secretary Clinton’s nascent campaign.
NBC has announced it will cast Diane Lane in a miniseries portraying Clinton; CNN has a feature-length Clinton documentary in the works. Clinton herself has remained coy about her 2016 ambitions, though it’s easy to envision a scenario in which she could time her campaign announcements to capitalize on the airing of a national television event in her honor.
Priebus gave the two networks until Aug. 14 to pull the Clinton shows, pledging to call for a binding vote at the RNC’s summer meeting late next week to “neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates with your sponsor.”