Breitbart News is reporting that the Republican National Committee has informed NBC News that they are officially cutting business ties for the February 26 debate. The RNC debate committee voted on Monday after being updated by Chairman Reince Priebus. The vote was unanimous.
After the October debate hosted by NBC partner CNBC—in which co-moderator John Harwood was roundly criticized for a poor performance—the RNC suspended its relationship with NBC News over that upcoming Houston debate.
“I write to inform you that pending further discussion between the Republican National Committee (RNC) and our presidential campaigns, we are suspending the partnership with NBC News for the Republican primary debate at the University of Houston on February 26, 2016,” Priebus wrote to NBC News chairman Andy Lack back in late October. “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.”
In response, NBC News signaled in a statement at the time that it thought the situation could be resolved.
“This is a disappointing development,” NBC News said in a statement. “However, along with our debate broadcast partners at Telemundo we will work in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party.”
This process also sparked an unprecedented meeting of top officials with almost every GOP presidential campaign, in which campaign managers represented most of the 2016 GOP candidates to fight for better representation in the debate process. Donald Trump’s team and Dr. Ben Carson’s team, as well most of the rest of the campaigns, huddled together to wrest control away from the mainstream media—which has been, until now, dominating the process.
Clearly, however, despite NBC’s previous hopes that the RNC would reinstate the network as a moderator of the upcoming debate, the RNC has officially moved forward with formal actions to end the network’s plans for the Houston debate.
NBC News moderated Sunday evening’s Democratic debate between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
The move by the RNC to formally extricate NBC News from the process is sure to seriously harm the media organization’s reputation, and its financial bottom line. Typically, networks make millions of dollars in ad revenue with debate moderation due to the extraordinarily high viewership.
NBC News couldn’t care less about its reputation with Republicans. That October debate demonstrated to anyone with an ounce of impartiality whose side they were on. Most media critics roasted the network — and deservedly so.
Forgive my ignorance, but it would seem to me that the parties have the upper hand in this process. Why doesn’t the RNC engage a hall, invite the candidates, choose the questioners, and then announce that any media organization who wishes to cover the event can pay a fee for access to the live stream? The RNC is not in the business of making money for networks. They’re supposedly in the business of promoting the party and its candidates. This kind of setup would assure maximum exposure for the GOP and its candidates.
Are they really worried no media outlet would cover the event? We know they’re not very media savvy at the RNC — or internet savvy either — so perhaps the way they’re conducting business with the networks is all they know.