Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) does not support the Republican National Committee’s decision to pull the group’s partnership with NBC and CNN for the 2016 GOP presidential primary debates unless the networks kill their planned films on Hillary Clinton.
“I don’t know exactly whether any kind of prohibition should be made on a network,” Paul told National Review on Thursday.
“I think that a Republican primary is for Republicans, and we’re trying to get to a Republican audience, so if there’s a presidential primary, I think we ought to choose people who are going to be fair moderators,” Paul said. “I’ve been with fair moderators on all the networks, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a network thing, but I think it is finding someone who is not thought to be already agreed with the other side.”
The statement is a reversal of Paul’s previous stance.
Earlier this month, Paul, who is considered a possible GOP presidential contender in 2016, offered support for the plan.
In an interview on Geraldo Rivera’s radio show, Paul called RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’s demand that the networks pull the films “reasonable.” He added that the planned programs raise larger questions about the impartiality of debate moderators and whether GOP candidates could get a “fair shake.”
Paul pointed to George Stephanopoulos, a staffer in former President Clinton’s White House who now works for ABC News and moderated a GOP debate last election cycle.
“You wonder if there was a concerted action between a former Democrat operative and basically the president’s campaign,” Paul said.
CNN announced last month that it had planned a feature-length film on the life of the former first lady, senator, secretary of State and possible Democratic presidential candidate. NBC, meanwhile, will air a four-hour miniseries starring Diane Lane as Clinton.
In response, the RNC voted unanimously last week to ban the networks from participating in the primary debates unless the networks pull their projects.
“We don't have time for the media's games,” Priebus said before the vote. “We’re done putting up with this nonsense. There are plenty of other news outlets.”
The RNC stated in its resolution that the planned films show neither network can be trusted to be fair arbiters of a presidential debate, and that the programming “amounts to little more than extended commercials promoting former Secretary Clinton.”
Neither network has plans to kill its project. CNN responded by saying the RNC couldn’t possibly know the content of its film, while NBC News maintains that it is entirely independent from NBC Entertainment, which is producing the miniseries.