BOSTON — The Republican National Committee voted Friday to bar NBC and CNN from sponsoring GOP primary debates in the 2016 election, ramping up pressure to stop the networks from running programs focused on Hillary Rodham Clinton.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who is trying to consolidate control over the primary process, said the networks’ programs were likely aid Mrs. Clinton, who is seen as the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, and he said that’s unfair to the GOP.
“It is the right thing to do for our voters,” Mr. Priebus said. “They are not going to get a real debate of substance if its run by a network who wants to help out Hillary Clinton. We are done with this nonsense, there are plenty of other good networks. CNN and NBC anchors will just have to watch on their competitors networks. The media overplayed their hand this time.”
The vote came on the third and final day of the RNC’s “Making it Happen” summer meeting, where the committee continued to pick up the pieces from the 2012 election and prepare for the 2014 and 2016 elections.
“I think it’s a good thing that we can have honest discussions on policy,” Mr. Priebus said. “A robust party should take time to debate the right solutions, and the right tactics. But there shouldn’t be any question: We’re united on our principles.”
NBC is scheduled to produce a fictionalized miniseries called “Hillary.” Oscar-nominated actress Diane Lane is supposed to play Mrs. Clinton. The four-hour film is expected to cover the former first lady’s public life since 1998, the year consumed by President Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky and the resulting impeachment furor.
CNN said in a statement last week that the RNC should reserve judgment on the project unit they know more about the film, which is in the “very early stages of development and months from completion.” They also said that “limiting their debate participation seems to be the ultimate disservice to voters.”
Mr. Priebus said in his speech here Friday that he is not buying the explanation.
“The networks can talk all they want about the lines between their divisions,” Mr. Priebus said Friday. “But the same week that people at NBC promised that NBC News was different than NBC Entertainment, that very same week that they made that argument, they announced they are going to give a prime time MSNBC slot to … Alec Baldwin.”
The RNC’s resolution points out that Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Mrs. Clinton, President Obama and the Democratic National Committee.