By Lara Seligman - 08/06/13 02:32 AM EDT
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus accused NBC and CNN of promoting the Democratic Party just hours after threatening to pull his group's partnership with the two networks for 2016 GOP presidential primary debates if they don't cancel plans to air films on Hillary Clinton.
“I think it's just about time that our party stands up and protects the party and candidates from networks that are not in the business of promoting our party, not in the business of promoting our candidates, not in the business of doing anything but promoting the Democratic party,” Priebus said on Fox News late Monday. “I'm not going to sit around and watch this happen anymore.”
Priebus urged CNN President Jeff Zucker and NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt in separate letters Monday to call off the documentaries.
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.
NBC News said in a statement Monday that it is completely independent from the Clinton documentary, which is being produced by NBC Entertainment.
CNN said its Hillary Clinton documentary had been commissioned by CNN Films, a division of CNN Worldwide and would 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,” the news network said Monday in a statement. “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.”
Priebus called the documentaries “a thinly veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election,” adding that neither network can be trusted to fairly moderate the GOP presidential debates.
In the 2012 GOP campaign, “we had a 23 debate traveling circus and I think its about time that we cut out those people that are actually spending their time and money promoting our opponents,” Priebus said on Fox.
Two state GOP chairman from early voting primary states on Monday endorsed Priebus's demand. Iowa Chairman AJ Spiker and South Carolina Chairman Matt Moore vowed not to cooperate with the networks on any 2016 GOP primary debates.