Why the Republicans threaten NBC, CNN boycotts

The party's national committee warns it will skip debates on those networks if they air TV specials about Hillary Clinton.

By Aimee Picchi Aug 6, 2013 12:57PM

Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 51st Delta Sigma Theta National Convention in Washington on July 16, 2013 (© Cliff Owen/AP Photo)A battle is brewing over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

Even though the 2016 presidential election is a few years away and Clinton hasn't even announced if she's running, the Republican National Committee is threatening to boycott Time Warner's (TWX) CNN and Comcast's (CMCSA) NBC if they don't halt projects about the former first lady.

Both NBC and CNN thumbed their noses at the RNC, saying they'll continue with the projects despite the threat, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The brouhaha started when RNC leader Reince Priebus wrote letters on Monday to each network, warning that the GOP group will skip primary debates if the networks proceed with their projects.

"This suggests a deliberate attempt at influencing American political opinion in favor of a preferred candidate, not to mention a guilty conscience," Priebus wrote. 

But both networks cautioned the RNC that any action would be "premature." CNN added that a boycott would be "the ultimate disservice to voters." (MSN moneyNOW is not owned by NBC or Comcast.)

The truth is that the RNC may have jumped the gun, given the small odds that any TV project will actually make it to air. Only about one-quarter of pilots have a shot of becoming a series, according to Variety.

NBC described its Hillary Clinton project as "in the very early stages" and appeared to downplay its chances of getting on the schedule, The Hollywood Reporter notes. 

"The script has not been written nor has it been ordered into production. It would be premature to draw any conclusions or make any assumptions about it at this time," the network said of the miniseries project starring Diane Lane as Clinton. (CNN is planning a documentary.)

Priebus, as John Nichols writes in the left-leaning The Nation, has a "long history of complaining about media coverage of his party and its candidates."

The threat may present an opportunity for both NBC and CNN to drum up ratings. After all, nothing draws viewers more than scandal and buzz, something that both networks are low on at the moment. 

CNN is trying to reinvent itself under the leadership of former NBC Universal chief executive Jeff Zucker. CNN is still trailing Fox News, even though its July ratings were up double digits from a year earlier. 

Meanwhile, NBC is struggling to find new prime-time shows that draw viewers. Aside from "Sunday Night Football," NBC had only one other show ranked among the top 10 during the 2012-13 TV season, and that was the aging talent-competition series "The Voice."

Priebus' outrage might only end up backfiring, if viewers flock to the CNN and NBC shows to see what all the fuss is about. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 

More on moneyNOW

Aug 6, 2013 1:35PM
Primary debates are a joke anyways. It is all about who is more extreme then once the general election starts it is about ignoring all the extremist things you said to become moderate. The Primary process makes sure we will never get a truly moderate candidate who can work with both sides.
Aug 6, 2013 1:18PM
They should forget the debates anyway, unless less biased moderators are chosen next time.
Aug 6, 2013 4:27PM
The propaganda machine has got to started as early as possible.
Aug 6, 2013 3:03PM
Sounds to me that the GOP is pretty scared of her considering she isn't even a candidate...yet.

And with good reason . So who do they have that could possibly beat her? That's what they need to concentrate on instead of her.

The GOP is in real trouble and they know it.
Aug 6, 2013 2:42PM

I'm beginning to think that the Republican Party leadership has been kidnapped, is being held in an undisclosed location, and that its talking heads are in fact Democratic Party operatives.

Aug 6, 2013 4:21PM

They run blatant political biased programs with their own Republican STARS and then they grouse about a program on a network other than FOX that features a former Secretary of State. I think it is just more of the Republican War on Women.

I look forward to the Republican comedy hour. (Republican debates) Where they argue over who is the most out of touch with reality and who is the most religious. You just can't make up stuff like they come up with.  

Aug 6, 2013 5:08PM

Hillary Clinton isn't running on any ticket!  She still has to explain why at 3:00 AM she wasn't available

to save four Americans in Benghazi and neither was the President available!  Hillary still has to explain her TIA not a fall on the stairs that there were not any to fall on?  Neither CNN or NBC or MSNBC will want the fall out on Hillary in 2016.  So there won't be any boycotts!  I'm an independent stating an opinion on reported facts not aired by NBC or CNN, only on CBS, FOX and local stations in CA.

Aug 6, 2013 4:57PM
It's three years away from our next presidential election, Hilary Clinton hasn't even announced that she's running for President and Reince Priebus already has his panties in a bunch. Clearly he's afraid. If CNN and NBC were planning a series on Gov. Chris Christie this wouldn't be an issue. As a matter of fact, Reince would probably run to get all of the RNC debates on their stations. The hypocrisy of the Republican party stinks to high hell.
Aug 6, 2013 1:25PM
LOL Does the GOP think that they care what they do ? This boycott is a joke just like the GOP ! Who do they think they are ? The GOP dictators are the biggest joke on the Planet! Next they will try to tell America that they are looking out for the common man ? LMFAO .. They could care a less about America ! Like the other 535 idiots in congress they all need to be fired in November 2014.. I'm firing mine ! Candice Miller of the 10th in Michigan is the most unproductive congress woman in congress along with her party of NO... The most useless place in the World is the US Congress and the US House is the most unproductive in the history of the US Congress ! Only in the USA can idiots like them be paid. These idiots cannot even pass a law on who goes to the bathroom first! < Useless.
Aug 6, 2013 1:36PM

"Frankly loosing the rights to air a Republican debate might boost their ratings."


You know, I was thinking the same thing. If the GOP fired Rove, banned all the anarchists who do truly stupid stuff and... introduced an anonymous candidate, banned media contact of every kind and just put the name on the ballot... they might fare much better than they have. History will remark about the GOP of this Era as the hardest working on unethical approaches to put a deadbeat puppet in the White House and to control the Fate of the Greatest Nation on Earth by controlling, manipulating, depressing, suppressing the crap out of it and forcing it into destitution. When you look up: Sacks of Blood Sucking Rotting Shitt in Wikipedia... it says: see GOP.   

Aug 6, 2013 5:23PM
After listening to the fawning treatment the networks give Obama, I'd be inclined to do something to try and prevent a repeat with the next anointed one. Not sure this is the right approach though.

However, if they go ahead with the projects and they turn out to be laughably obsequious, maybe now more folks will notice.

Aug 6, 2013 5:16PM
In the interest of Prince Rebus' stated intention of "reaching out", maybe they should just make Fox the Official Broadcaster of the 2016 Republican Presidential Debates (all 60 of them.)
Aug 6, 2013 1:24PM
Frankly loosing the rights to air a Republican debate might boost their ratings. After the first 2-3 no one with a once of grey matter watched the 20 or so in 2012
Aug 6, 2013 4:23PM
They would have to threaten all the networks except fox as all networks are pro communism  
Aug 6, 2013 1:17PM
Rinse Preebus is such an embarrassing pussy.
Aug 6, 2013 5:55PM
The Clintons like the Obama's have a shady questionable financial past, not to mention scandles and a mysterious unsolved death in their shady political past. Debates?? Debaucles!! Please Dear God, get us another Ronald Reagan. A straight up no bull true American who's total interest was in helping America stay a strong morally straight counytry. I quit watching political debates a long time ago as the only thing I got from them was which or who was the stupidist!! Sorry but the entire political scene in our country has become nothing more garbage and put them all in a compactor. No more debates. Lets find a true blooded American Patriot who has no fear of kicking a**es of those that deserve it, GOD BLESS AMERICA
Aug 6, 2013 8:39PM
Diane Lane is too hot a woman to play Clinton. They need to find some rag to play her.
Aug 6, 2013 2:40PM
Same thing the liberal media did with obo. They should have their license yanked.

Aug 6, 2013 8:32PM

Aug 6, 2013 4:28PM


The libs have all the networks except FOX NEWS, And every major newspaper , not to mention PBS aka PMS which the taxpayer funds

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