“We have to control the referees that we’re bringing into our playground,” Priebus said of his threat to prohibit CNN and NBC from holding Republican-primary debates in 2016. “The fact of the matter is you’ve got two networks that are potentially spending millions of dollars, promoting a person they know is at least doing the dance in getting ready for a run for the president.”
“I’m not going to sit around and let this happen anymore,” he said. The Republican National Committee has announced it will not allow CNN and NBC to hold primary debates unless the networks pulls their production of films they’re planning about former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. “It doesn’t matter if the films are love letters to Hillary,” Priebus said, because, regardless, the networks aren’t ”in the business of doing anything but promoting the Democratic party” (host Sean Hannity had contended the productions would indeed be “love letters”).
Priebus argued that he’s simply doing the same thing to manage his party’s brand that the DNC did when it prevented Fox News from holding a 2008 debate, and lamented how the 2012 Republican-primary debates had gone. The candidates were faced, he said, with “a bunch of moderators who are in the business of making news at the expense of our party and candidates” by presenting “ridiculous hypotheticals that are never going to be reality,” meaning the candidates ultimately “sliced and diced each other.”
“I think it’s just about time our party stands up and protects the party and our candidates from networks that are not in the business of promoting our party – they’re not in the business of promoting our candidates, they’re not in the business of doing anything but promoting the Democratic party,” he said.
As for the last election cycle’s “23-debate traveling circus,” Priebus said the RNC will also look into a more “reasonable” debate schedule, which would also include new kinds of debates, such as town halls and Lincoln-Douglas debates.
Priebus also suggested that if the networks are so deadset on producing the films, they can wait until after the election: “Nothing’s going to change, Hillary’s going to be here for plenty of years to produce movies and documentaries.”