RNC Chairman Reince Priebus was trying to use the planned Hillary Clinton programs on CNN and NBC as an excuse to cut down on the number of 2016 debates. Instead, his plan has completely backfired.
Chairman Priebus sent letters to CNN and NBC demanding that they cancel respectively a documentary and a mini-series about Hillary Clinton. Priebus threatened that if these programs were not canceled, there would be no Republican primary debates on CNN and NBC.
Here is the RNC letter to CNN:
Priebus had three goals when he sent the letter. He is already trying to build in an excuse for Republicans losing the 2016 election. (The media was in the bag for Hillary.) Priebus was trying to motivate the Republican base with cries of liberal media bias, and most importantly, he was looking for an excuse to cancel Republican primary debates.
The head of the RNC is convinced that Republicans lost because they reached too many voters. Part of his big plan to remake the GOP after their 2012 defeat is to build up a front runner and wrap up the nomination early by limiting the number of primary debates.
Priebus recently admitted to Fox News that his party can’t handle the scrutiny of the primary process:
On Fox News, Priebus lashed out at the number of debates and moderators, “I think 23 debates is ridiculous, but the second thing that is ridiculous is allowing moderators, who are not serving the best interests of the candidate and the party, to actually be the people to be deposing our people. And I think that’s totally wrong.”
Priebus wants fewer debates, and the debates that are held should feature only Republican moderators.
CNN saw through what Priebus was trying to do, and absolutely demolished his argument by making one simple point at the end of their reply to Priebus’s demands, “CNN Films, a division of CNN Worldwide, commissioned a documentary about Hillary Clinton earlier this year. It is expected to premiere in 2014 with a theatrical run prior to airing on CNN. This documentary will be a non-fiction look at the life of a former First Lady and Secretary of State. Instead of making premature decisions about a project that is in the very early stages of development and months from completion, we would encourage the members of the Republican National Committee to reserve judgment until they know more. Should they decide not to participate in debates on CNN, we would find it curious, as limiting their debate participation seems to be the ultimate disservice to voters.”
Instead of looking like a strong man who taking on the “liberal” media, Priebus looks like a guy who is running a party that is terrified of Hillary Clinton and afraid to let the American people know what they stand for. (This impression is strikingly accurate, because Republicans are afraid of Clinton, and have been trying to hide their agenda for years.)
Outside of the usual right wing media echo chamber, the rest of the country has reacted the same way that CNN did. They want to know what the Republican Party is so afraid of?
Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe tweeted:
Better RNC debate plan. Held in hermetically sealed Fox studio. Avoid exposing swing voters to Crazy S*#t My Nominee Says.
— David Plouffe (@davidplouffe) August 5, 2013
This August surprise by the RNC has predictably backfired. When Priebus eventually tries to back out of the 2016 primary debates, he and his candidates will look like cowards. Everything that the RNC didn’t want to have happen is happening.
It is never a good sign when the party chairman is already making excuses for a potential defeat that is still three years away, and the country is noticing.
The party of tough talking Ronald Reagan has become the party of trying to weasel their way out of presidential debates. The plan to bail on the primary debates has backfired, and left Republicans looking weaker than ever.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association