The Republican National Committee is threatening not to partner with NBC and CNN on future presidential debates unless they halt production of recently announced programs about Hillary Clinton, according to letters RNC Chairman Reince Priebus sent to network heads.
NBC announced in July that the network would air a four-hour miniseries about the former first lady called “Hillary,” and CNN Films is producing a documentary about her as well.
In letters addressed to NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt and CNN President Jeff Zucker on Aug. 5, Priebus warned that RNC members intend to vote on a resolution at their party-wide meeting later this month to shut out the networks from partnering with the party on Republican primary debates if they do not cancel the programs.
"Out of a sense of fairness and decency and in the interest of the political process and your company's reputation, I call on you to cancel this political ad masquerading as an unbiased production,” Priebus wrote. "If you have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC's Summer Meeting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates which you sponsor."
Both parties traditionally partner with news outlets to broadcast presidential debates in both the primary and general elections.
The move by the RNC suggests that the party views the upcoming films about a Clinton, a possible Democratic presidential candidate who regularly leads in early polls of likely Democratic voters, as a way to promote her as a candidate.
In response, NBC News pointed to a wall of separation between the Entertainment and News departments of the company.
"NBC News is completely independent of NBC Entertainment and has no involvement in this project," the statement read.
CNN urged RNC members to wait to see the final product before making a decision.
"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," read the CNN 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."