The Republican National Committee took its complaints with CNBC over the this week’s GOP presidential debate a step further, announcing today it won’t work with NBC News and Telemundo for a scheduled debate in February. The debate itself isn’t off, RNC chairman Reince Priebus wrote, saying “we still fully intend to have a debate on that day.”
In a letter today to NBC News chairman Andrew Lack, Priebus said that CNBC’s debate “was conducted in bad faith” and so it is “suspending the partnership with NBC News” for a planned February 26, 2016 debate.
“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,” Priebus wrote.
Acknowledging that NBC “does not exercise full editorial control over CNBC’s journalistic approach,” Priebus argued that since “the network is an arm of your organization” the RNC is concerned.
According to Priebus, CNBC didn’t hold to its promise to allow candidates an “opening question on economic or financial matters” or to allow “fairness” in giving each candidate enough speaking time.
“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,” Priebus lamented.
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Priebus complained that the questions were “‘gotcha’ questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates.”
Read the whole letter here.
NBC News responded to the letter, issuing a statement saying
“This is a disappointing development. However, along with our debate broadcast partners at Telemundo we will work in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party.”
iMediaEthics has written to NBC News to ask if it has any further comment.