Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, has threatened to block CNN and NBC News from holding Republican presidential debates if NBC goes ahead with making a miniseries about Hillary Clinton and if CNN goes ahead with making a documentary on Ms. Clinton.
Given the circus nature and low ratings of GOP debates before the last presidential election, no doubt the reaction from both networks was, "Yes, and...? Sorry, we're waiting for the 'threat' part."
I suspect there are many at the networks who might be absolutely thrilled to be "forced" not to carry their own Republican debate. Not everyone at the networks might feel that way, of course. Just those with a low tolerance of boredom.
(To be clear, it's not that Democratic debates are any great shakes when they have them. But Democrats tend to slam one another, which is at least fun TV and allows for critical thinking, while most Republicans still try to operate by Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment -- "Thou shalt not criticize another Republican." Also, GOP debates tended to let in the lunatic fringe, like Donald Trump and Mr. Pizza.)
In response, CNN sent out the following:
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.
Excuse me, but what a wimpy statement.
The correct response is -- "CNN does not have its news policy and programming dictated by the Republican National Committee."
And if they really wanted to be cool, they could have added, "Unlike Fox News."
Far more notable than CNN's pathetically weak reply is that, as far as I can tell, NBC didn't even bother to say anything. Dismissive silence does sometimes have its wonderful place. Though I have to admit, I wouldn't have minded a pointed, "You've been working with Fox News too long to think this is how real news operates."
Yes, yes, I know that Hillary Clinton may be a presidential candidate in three years. But then, I don't recall Reince Priebus whining about A&E (then partly-owned by NBC/Universal) airing, Faith of My Fathers, about John McCain in 2005 -- three years before he was the Republican nominee. And I most certainly don't recall the Democratic National Committee threatening to ban NBC from carrying debates.
It must be quite a burden for a political party spending its life being angst-ridden.
Personally, I think it would be interesting if the RNC carried out its "threat." That would leave the available channels to get its message across to the wide-spectrum of Americans and impact the middle-ground undecided voters to CBS (providing Time-Warner is carrying it by then), ABC, and perhaps Animal Planet. Yes, they will be on Fox News, but that's not just preaching to the choir, that's carrying the whole chorus with you in a private, luxury bus.
And so the RNC whines about everything in the world that's not the RNC. And the world goes 'round...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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