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RNC Pulls February Presidential Debate From NBC

RNC Pulls February Presidential Debate From NBC

And thus concludes the clown show. Kind of.

Early Friday afternoon, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus sent a nastygram to NBC News, suspending the Republican Party’s partnership with the network.

After the third Republican presidential debate, which was hosted by CNBC, Priebus said he was “ashamed” of how the network handled the event.

So adversarial were the debate moderators, that several candidates used valuable debate time to swat back. Senator Cruz had to remind moderators that the debate was, “not a cage match.”

In his letter to NBC News, Priebus accused debate moderators of employing “gotcha” questions, of being “mean-spirited,” and of intentionally attempting to embarrass Republican candidates:

Mr. Andrew Lack
Chairman, NBC News
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, New York 10112

Dear Mr. Lack,

I write to inform you that pending further discussion between the Republican National Committee (RNC) and our presidential campaigns, we are suspending the partnership with NBC News for the Republican primary debate at the University of Houston on February 26, 2016. The RNC’s sole role in the primary debate process is to ensure that our candidates are given a full and fair opportunity to lay out their vision for America’s future. We simply cannot continue with NBC without full consultation with our campaigns.

The CNBC network is one of your media properties, and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith. We understand that NBC does not exercise full editorial control over CNBC’s journalistic approach. However, the network is an arm of your organization, and we need to ensure there is not a repeat performance.

CNBC billed the debate as one that would focus on “the key issues that matter to all voters—job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy.” That was not the case. Before the debate, the candidates were promised an opening question on economic or financial matters. That was not the case. Candidates were promised that speaking time would be carefully monitored to ensure fairness. That was not the case. Questions were inaccurate or downright offensive. The first question directed to one of our candidates asked if he was running a comic book version of a presidential campaign, hardly in the spirit of how the debate was billed.

While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of “gotcha” questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates. What took place Wednesday night was not an attempt to give the American people a greater understanding of our candidates’ policies and ideas.

I have tremendous respect for the First Amendment and freedom of the press. However, I also expect the media to host a substantive debate on consequential issues important to Americans. CNBC did not.

While we are suspending our partnership with NBC News and its properties, we still fully intend to have a debate on that day, and will ensure that National Review remains part of it.

I will be working with our candidates to discuss how to move forward and will be in touch.


Reince Priebus
Chairman, Republican National Committee

Props to the RNC for refusing to work with a network blatantly engaging in hostile behavior towards Republican candidates.

The 2016 Republican primary season has brought with it unprecedented debate viewership ratings, ratings which financially benefit sponsoring networks.

I don’t envy the weight placed on RNC decision-makers. It’s virtually impossible to find a platform for Republican candidates void of leftist leanings, but engaging the public early is crucial to a general election victory.

A better idea?

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“And thus concludes the clown show.”

Weeeelllll, suspends the clown show. Which at least is a step in the right direction.

That Sean Davis feller is a freaking genius…!!! Except the GOP should sell the debates THEY conduct to the news outlets.

    Estragon in reply to Ragspierre. | October 30, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    YouTube and Facebook streaming is great for younger audiences, but they don’t tend to watch debates.

    People forget the RNC doesn’t own the debates or the candidates. This year was the result of an extraordinary three-year effort to avoid the glut of the last cycle, and it has pretty much worked.

    But if they limit the audience in such a way, even NBC might be able to offer an ad hoc debate with enough audience the candidates couldn’t turn down.

      Let the candidates decide who the moderators will be and let all the major networks bring their cameras. This seems like a problem with a very simple solution.

Trent Telenko | October 30, 2015 at 3:04 pm

The Republican National Committee (RNC) and Chairman Reince Priebus in particular have so pissed of the GOP candidate field with the CNBC debate — particularly dropping the viewership from 24 million in the 1st debate to 14 million (See – this time out with CNBC — that Trump and Carson are now rounding up as many of the other GOP candidates as they can to do their own debates.

Donald Trump’s time as a reality TV star in negotiating with various networks has given the field of GOP candidates the critical mass of skills necessary to dump the RNC as an intermediary “Mr. 10%” as far as paid media events are concerned.

IMO, the Republican presidential political consultant class is in shock over this development.

It means they are redundant.

    Ragspierre in reply to Trent Telenko. | October 30, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    For the sake of reality, it isn’t T-rump or Carson who are pushing this. It’s their campaign managers (ZMOG…”consultants”!!!) who got this going.

    Just to keep it real…

    Ragspierre in reply to Trent Telenko. | October 30, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    In an interview shortly after the debate, Barry Bennett, manager of the Ben Carson campaign, called the session here in Colorado “unfair to everyone” and said the current debate structure should not remain in place. “I think the families need to get together here, because these debates as structured by the RNC are not helping the party,” Bennett said. “There’s not enough time to talk about your plans, there’s no presentation. It’s just a slugfest. All we do is change moderators. And the trendline is horrific. So I think there needs to be wholesale change here.”

    Bennett said he will call Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski Thursday to propose a unified call for change. “Corey and I talk regularly, so I will talk to him,” Bennett said. “I will call Frank Sadler (Carly Fiorina’s campaign manager), I will call those guys and say listen, we can choose our own network and our own format. We don’t need to be led around like prize steers.”

    So eat that, down-thumbers. Happy Halloween!

Trump called this one.
And he’s been spot on about a lot of things.

Bash him about his flaws all you want.

Give the man credit for having exceptional instincts.

Scheduling the debate on the night of a World Series game couldn’t have helped.

Sammy Finkelman | October 30, 2015 at 3:37 pm

The letter says that CNBC flat-out vioated some of their committments.

While they didn’t promise not to ask gotcha questions, they did promise the opening question would be on economic or financial matters, and instead it was what is your biggest weakness and please don’t say you work too hard or you’re a perfectionist. And then the debate as a whole was supposed to focus on “the key issues that matter to all voters—job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy.”

And while there was a little bit about taxes – mostly challenging, from a “you’ll hurt prople” or “it doesn’t add up” point of view probably originating with Democrats
(although Harwood said he talked to economic advisers who have served presidents of both parties, it was probably a list supplied by Democrats, and Democrats always like to say when they can, that this is coming from members of both parties – Trump countered with Larry Kudlow and was ignored, with Harwood asserting the Tax Foundation was the authority.)

The serious questions on the economy were asked only in the form of gotcha questions.

While there was a little bit on taxes, retirement, in the form of Social Security, was only brought up by the candidates, and 401ks was only brought up ina gotchas type question to Carly Fiorina as to why she didn’t endorse some legislation that Democrats were muttering about – I mean that’s what it is.

She was picked, apparently, because she had been a CEO, so it could look bad that she had, and ran, a 401k and didn’t give it to everyone. Jeb Bush later mentioned that because of all the federal mandates and federal laws, it took an arm and a leg for a small business (he ran one) to set up a 401(k) – he either said he didn’t set one up, or he nearly didn’t set one up, because it was too expensive to get it going or run it. He could have had a good point there, if he’d expanded on that.

Economic growth was brought up only by the candidates (Carson, Cruz, Bush, Rubio and Kasich)

Technology was brought up only in gotcha questions (in passing that Hewlett Packard was technology company) and why Marco Rubio didn’t agree with Senator Sessions:

(To Rubio) Please explain why Senator Sessions is wrong about H1B visas. Rubio defended his position but said nothing about Senator Sessions and Harwood responded that it seems like you disagree with Senator Sessions (whom Trump consulted to devise his immigration plan)

Rubio again emphasized some conditions (which would make people who want the visas unhappy) and then Becky Quick prompted Trump to attack Rubio. Trump denied that he’d attacked Mark Zuckerberg. Becky Quick then wanted Trump to say that he was in favor of Mark Zuckerberg was for, but Trump merely said he had nothing at all critical to say about him.

Then Becky Quick said that he had called Rubio the personal Senator of Mark Zuckerberg and Trump denied it, and started to say there was somebody in Florida (meaning to mention a supporter of Rubio, who has helped him and his wife out financially) but Rubio interrupted but talked about Hillary’s SuperPac.

Later Becky Quick said she found where Trump said it (it’s on his web site.)

Trump reiterated that he didn’t intend to be critical of Mark Zuckerberg and if everythng is legal it is all right.

Ted Cruz was asked where exactly do you want to go with your criticism of the Fed. Should the Congress set montary policy. Rand Paul was also asked to respond.

Henry Hawkins | October 30, 2015 at 3:42 pm

Reince Priebus: “Quick! Close the barn door! The horses are out!”

    Reince Priebus even PO’s me for now having to learn the spelling of his name so I can tweet him personally to tell him to go fire himself and why.

    Maybe the next one in line has a name like Dieselfink Öffnungszeiten.

Way to go, Reince! You only had to take three world-class wedgies before you issued a sternly worded letter. Not exactly a fast learner. I’ll bet he called NBC in advance to apologize.

    gasper in reply to Merlin. | October 30, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    To me, the letter does not appear stern at all. He should have had Cruz write the letter if he wanted it to mean something, or better yet, maybe Trump. There are times when you just say, “Fuck tact” and tell someone how you really feel. There is that saying that goes, “Tact is saying nice doggie, nice doggie until you can find a stick”. Sometimes you just need to shoot the son on of a bitch.

Should have occurred several elections ago. Why do Republicans keep subjecting their candidates to hostile partisans masquerading as journalists while Democrats avoid all but sympathetic reporters?

Will you see Democrats go before an all Fox News panel? Not likely.

Priebus needs to go!

Ace Of Spades has one of the best take downs of journalists evah!!!!

    Well? We’re Waiting… lol

    gotta link?

      Anchovy in reply to VotingFemale. | October 30, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      Sorry… just figured most of the folks that hang here would have Ace bookmarked. Here is the link

      Don’t know why people down thumbed your request for a link. Seems a reasonable request to me.

        clafoutis in reply to Anchovy. | October 30, 2015 at 7:44 pm

        Comment to one of Ace’s posts today called Bush the Republicans’ Chelsea Clinton.


        (Ace is required reading).

        riverlife_callie in reply to Anchovy. | October 30, 2015 at 10:07 pm

        They down-thumbed because she is a Trump supporter and some just don’t like that. (I’m not but I don’t mind).

        Thanks for the link. Excellent article.

        Thanks for the link, Anchovy. Ace is a real hoot. He is active on Twitter, my primary venue of choice. I was just prompting for a link so everybody (including me) had an easy path to the article.

        As for the thumbs down from our little group of Trump haters, it proves they read my commentary.

        I support the Supporters of both Ted Cruz & Donald Trump but I won’t endorse any candate until sometime next year.

        It’s all good!

Saw Gov. John Kasich on FOX, making an ass of himself by giving us the Democratic talking points against the other Republican candidates. He might as well quit, now.

    It was obvious to me that the CNBC mods & Kasch arranged a coordinated attack plan between themselves to juice up the debate. It failed on its face as did the intended humiliation of the contenders as a whole, extending into an attack on the ligitimacy of conservativism itself before a world wide audience.

    Fortunately, they not only failed, the tables were turned and the Liberal media itself were totally exposed, not just as noxious and bitter trolls, but also inept two-bit political thugs by creating a colossal black eye for the Democrat party and their affiliate NBC.

    From the DEM party perspective, this was equiv to blowing themselves up with a bomb intended for the GOP as a whole.

    Obama must have had a hand in it, it went so bad.

Let’s have Hillary or Bernie show up to a debate moderated by Rush in the general election (or primary).

It’s as absurd as what the GOP has been agreeing to for the past 20 years.