The GOP has a long history of subjecting its candidates to abuse by debate moderators.

From George Stephanopolous to Candy Crowley, debates are a time for network journalists to earn their battle badges by damaging Republicans.

And the GOP just sucks it up and takes it.

So why would the CNBC moderators have thought the most recent Republican Primary debate should be any different?

CNBC did what it thought it was supposed to do — mock and snicker at Republican candidates. Belittle them. Dismiss their intelligence and portray them as kooks.

CNBC moderators were so over the top, however, that even the Republican National Committee Chair Reince Preibus, who had agreed to have CNBC moderate a debate, expressed outrage.

But the RNC took one more step – it pulled NBC News off a planned debate to be co-moderated with National Review. That step was met with strong support among Republican voters.

NBC News issued a statement saying it hoped to work with the RNC to resolve any differences.

Don’t let it.

The GOP has stumbled, almost blind, into a way to harness the anger of the Republican electorate while also resetting the relationship between the GOP and the hostile media.

Make an example of NBC News.

It’s a winning issue. No one likes journalists. The profession is not well respected and is viewed widely as biased. Who is going to come to the defense of NBC News?

Its main news operation may not be the worst offender, but it runs two anti-Republican attack shops — MSNBC and CNBC. Don’t let it back into any debates, not in the primaries or the general election.

Republican voters will support the decision to fight. And because the conduct of CNBC is so indefensible, it’s the issue over which to extract a price.

Candidates need to go one step further, and refuse to appear on NBC News broadcasts. So we miss out on Meet the Press. Who cares? Andrea Mitchell doesn’t get to interview Republicans. Big deal. The only loss would be Morning Joe, but it’s a small price to pay for proving an overall point.

I don’t think all networks should be shut out. Divide them against themselves.

Will CNN turn away the largest audiences it ever had and the massive paydays to defend NBC News? Let the others profit from NBC News’ loss. They’ll get the message.

Turn the narrative around from the GOP needing the media to the media needing the GOP.

And it they don’t get the message, and the other networks rally around NBC News, then the battle lines will have been drawn. This is a fight that has been long in coming, and one we need.

Of course, it’s unlikely the GOP will have the guts to fight this fight.

The GOP will strike some deal with NBC News wherein NBC News promises to be nice. And thereby, the GOP will have let a perfect media crisis go to waste. Unless you make your voices heard.


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