The Republican party voted unanimously and enthusiastically on Friday to stop the liberal media from manipulating its presidential candidates into excessively beating each other up in primary debates.
The last presidential election cycle was a bloodbath for Republican candidates struggling through a record 20 primary debates. The GOP was suckered by the liberal media into allowing the candidates to beat each other up over and over until a weakened Mitt Romney faced Barack Obama in the general election. Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman, has now put an end to the massacre.
“There are forces out there that want to divide our party,” Mr. Priebus said at the RNC summer meeting in Boston. “But we’re not going to let them get in the way of our mission — whether they’re naysayers or news networks.”
Republican party leaders loudly approved by voice vote a resolution that gave Mr. Priebus the power to determine the location, moderators and number of debates in the 2016 presidential primary. If candidates go outside of those predetermined debates, the party will have the power to punish them in ways such as docking a percent of their delegates.
Republicans also decided that it will not have any debates that involve CNN and NBC, including MSNBC and CNBC. Mr. Priebus has made changing the debate process one of his top priorities since his re-election in January. But he found an opening when NBC and CNN both announced plans to air shows about Hillary Rodham Clinton, the likely 2016 Democratic nominee for president.
The RNC resolution says that the broadcasts are essentially “extended commercials promoting former Secretary Clinton” which “show political favoritism and put a thumb on the scales for the next presidential election.”
The GOP determined that unless the networks cancel the programming, the RNC will not sanction any primary debates they sponsor. It was a bold move and sent a strong message to the liberal media that there are consequences for their aiding and abetting Democratic candidates.
“This is the right thing to do for voters. They’re not going to get a real debate of substance if it’s run by a network who wants to help out Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Priebus said. “We’re done putting up with this nonsense. There are plenty of other outlets. We’ll still reach voters, maybe more voters. But CNN and NBC anchors will just have to watch on their competitors’ networks.”
In the last primary debates, CNN hosted 8 of the 20 debates — four moderated by John King, three by Wolf Blitzer and one by Anderson Cooper. NBC sponsored four debates — two by Brian Williams, one with David Gregory and one with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo and John Harwood.
This is the first time that the GOP has been able to change its rules in an election off-year. Until 2012, the party set its rules at the convention and was stuck with the decisions for four years. In the last cycle, Mr. Priebus was powerless to stop the candidates from accepting more than the eight agreed-upon debates because the rules had been set from 2008.
Republicans often feel powerless to fight the liberal bias in the mainstream media. Mr. Priebus’s move energized and empowered the meeting held in city where the original Tea Party took place. The GOP should continue to use its leverage to protect its candidates in order to win back the White House in 2016.