Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus threatened NBC and CNN that neither will be a network partner for any Republican primary debates in the 2016 presidential election cycle if they air a planned miniseries about Hillary Clinton.
“If you have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meeting August 14, I will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating the committee will neither partner with you in primary debates nor sanction primary debates which you sponsor,” Priebus wrote in a letter addressed to Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment.
In the letter, dated Aug. 5, 2013 and posted to the GOP.com website, Priebus scolded Greenblatt, called NBC’s decision to air a miniseries about Hillary Clinton “disturbing and disappointing,” and questioned the credibility of NBC News.
“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,” Priebus wrote.
In an almost identical letter to CNN President Jeff Zucker, Priebus threatened an RNC vote to also exclude CNN from 2016 GOP primary debates.
Clinton, a former first lady, New York senator, and U.S. secretary of state, is a likely Democratic presidential contender and considered by some to be a possible frontrunner for 2016.
Priebus said that the miniseries could give Clinton an advantage over other potential Democratic opponents such Vice President Joe Biden, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
“As American citizens, certainly you recognize why many are astounded at your actions, which appear to be a major network’s thinly-veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election,” Priebus wrote.
He continued by pointing out that NBC’s parent company has conspicuously supported the Democratic Party.
“Executives and employees of Comcast, NBC’s parent company have been generous supporters of Democrats and Secretary Clinton,” Priebus wrote. “David Cohen, Comcast’s EVP, raised over $1.4 million for 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.”
This story has been updated to include details about letter sent to CNN.