Republican National Committee votes to ban NBC, CNN from debates

The Republican National Committee (RNC) voted unanimously Friday 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.

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“We don't have time for the media's games,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said before the vote at the RNC summer meeting in Boston. “We’re done putting up with this nonsense. There are plenty of other news outlets.”

According to the resolution, called “In support of media objectivity and accountability” and obtained by The Hill, the RNC called the planned films “political favoritism” and accused NBC and CNN of airing “programming that amounts to little more than extended commercials promoting former Secretary Clinton.”

CNN announced last month it had planned a feature-length film on the life of the former secretary of State and possible Democratic presidential contender. NBC will air a four-hour mini-series starring Diane Lane as Clinton.

Earlier this month, Priebus sent letters to CNN President Jeff Zucker and NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt warning he’d pull GOP debates from the networks over the films, which he called “a thinly veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election.”

The chairman argued that moving ahead with the movie projects was evidence that neither network could be trusted to be fair arbiters in a presidential debate.

CNN responded to the vote by arguing that the RNC couldn’t possibly know anything about the content of its film.

“The project is in the very early stages of development, months from completion, with most of the reporting and interviewing yet to be done,” the network said in a statement. “Therefore speculation about the final program is just that.”

“We encouraged all interested parties to wait until the program premieres before judgments are made about it,” CNN continued. “Unfortunately, the RNC was not willing to do that.”

NBC News has defended its project, saying it’s completely independent from the Clinton project, which is being produced by NBC Entertainment. 

In addition to voting on action against the networks, the resolution says the RNC “shall endeavor to bring more order to the primary debates and ensure a reasonable number of debates, appropriate moderators and debate partners are chosen, and that other issues pertaining to the general nature of such debates are addressed.”

The RNC is looking to exert more influence over the debate process. In 2011 and 2012, the GOP candidates endured more than 20 debates, which some have said resulted in the party emerging from the primaries weakened by infighting and embarrassing nationally televised incidents.

This week, the Washington Examiner reported that the RNC is considering some high-profile conservative media personalities, like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, as potential debate moderators.

“I actually think that’s a very good idea,” Priebus said.

This story was updated at 12:24 p.m.