The Republican National Committee charged Monday that NBC and CNN are promoting a potential presidential candidacy by Hillary Rodham Clinton, threatening to blackball them from future GOP primary debates if they air planned programs on the former secretary of state.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus called a planned NBC miniseries on Clinton and a CNN documentary on the first lady an “extended commercial” for a future Clinton presidential campaign. In separate letters to the networks, he urged them to cancel “this political ad masquerading as an unbiased production.”
Clinton has not yet said whether she’ll run for president again in 2016 but her future remains the subject of wide speculation in political circles and beyond. The primary debates typically provide a ratings boost for the networks and are highly-coveted as the presidential campaign unfolds.
In making the charge, the RNC was raising a common complaint among Republican activists that news and entertainment industries favor Democratic candidates. Republicans have also used a potential Clinton campaign as a fundraising tool in recent months as both parties begin to assess the crop of candidates to succeed President Barack Obama.
CNN Films is planning a feature-length documentary film on the former first lady, looking at her professional and personal life. It will be led by Oscar-winning director and producer Charles Ferguson and is expected to air in 2014.
NBC has announced a miniseries called Hillary, starring actress Diane Lane. No air date has been announced but it is timed to be released before the 2016 presidential election. NBC has said the four-hour miniseries will follow Clinton’s life and career from 1998 to the present.
Richard Licata, an NBC Entertainment spokesman, declined comment on the request and referred calls to NBC News, which did not immediately comment. CNN also did not immediately comment.
In the letters, Priebus said the RNC would refuse to partner with the two networks on future Republican primary debates or sanction any debates which CNN or NBC may sponsor if they continued with their Clinton programs. Unless the networks comply, he plans to push for the sanctions at an RNC meeting in Boston beginning on Aug. 14.
GOP leaders in the early voting states of Iowa and South Carolina said they supported the request.