RNC, citing CNBC’s “bad faith” debate, suspends ties to NBC for future debates

Reince Priebus delivered a letter to NBC earlier today informing them that they are suspending their partnership for their February 26th debate in Houston, citing this past week’s debate that the party conducted with CNBC. The campaign managers for both Ben Carson and Donald Trump, the two frontrunners, have already threatened to organize a revolt and stage their own debates without the RNC’s input if action isn’t taken to negotiate more favorable terms, and Priebus’s letter appears to be his first act of capitulation to their demands.

As Priebus wrote:

Third GOP debate, screenshot via YouTube

Third GOP debate, screenshot via YouTube

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.

The CNBC network is one of your media properties, and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith. We understand that NBC does not exercise full editorial control over CNBC’s journalistic approach. However, the network is an arm of your organization, and we need to ensure there is not a repeat performance.

For starters, the debate process does not exist for the sole purpose of giving candidates a chance to “lay out their vision for America’s future.” That’s a part of the process, yes, but the American people also care whether their elected officials are flagrant liars and actual snake-oil salesmen. Additionally, if a candidate’s “vision for the future of America” includes a tax plan that every independent analysis says will blow a fourteen-digit hole in the budget, that’s something worth asking about, too.

If the Republican Party wants to buy a two or three-hour long advertisement for its own party, I’m sure NBC can name a price. But if they want to hold an actual debate, they at least have to hold out the possibility that their candidates are going to come out on the other side worse for wear. Given their slate of positively ridiculous candidates, that possibility is greater now than it was in previous years.

The problem here is that for all of the good reasons NBC has for telling Priebus exactly where to go with his letter, they’ve got a couple million reasons to cave. Every primary debate thus far — both for Democrats and Republicans — has shattered previous viewership records. So while it flies in the face of everything we understand to be the case when it comes to the media’s relationship with political parties, and moderators having free reign to ask questions of candidates as they see fit, chances are we’ll see NBC make some concessions to the Republicans and their candidates in order to allow the debate to proceed as planned.

For their part, NBC has already released a brief statement responding to Priebus’s letter, reading, “This is a disappointing development. However, along with our debate broadcast partners at Telemundo we will work in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party.”

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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63 Responses to “RNC, citing CNBC’s “bad faith” debate, suspends ties to NBC for future debates”

  1. Guyzer says:

    remove the dick from your mouth

  2. Guyzer says:

    It was very entertaining watching the left winger nut job hacks getting slapped around by the Republican candidates.
    NBC has zero credibility.

  3. emjayay says:

    Whatever washingtonmonthly uses, and it also uses Disquis, isn’t bad. At least you can make the size bigger with fingers on the screen. What AB uses just sits there being microscopic.

  4. Barbara Morrow says:


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  6. The_Fixer says:

    I don’t intend on giving Gates a break – been in this industry too long to not know the various shenanigans the has pulled over the years. The Internet actually took off in spite Win 3.11, and the horrible mess that was Trumpet Winsock.

    But that’s neither here nor there – we’re well beyond that. I use Linux Mint (have used various flavors of Linux since about ’97 or so), and it is a winner. Nicely customizable, and drop-dead easy to maintain. No harder to operate than Windows, and in some cases, easier.

  7. Houndentenor says:

    Your high school speech teacher wouldn’t let you get away with lying and not answering a question! The US corporate media on the other hand could care less so long as there’s ratings and they don’t offend sponsors and their owners.

  8. Houndentenor says:

    “Gotcha” questions (not that there were any at that “debate”) are a great opportunity for candidates to answer their critics uninterrupted and in front of millions of potential primary voters. It shows what weaklings these candidates are that they see that as bullying and not an opportunity to “set the record straight.”

  9. Houndentenor says:

    Why shouldn’t he lie when the media will let him get away with it and the right wing media will claim that anyone who asks a serious question is “in the tank” for Hillary?

  10. Houndentenor says:

    Those were good debates and fair to everyone imho.

  11. Houndentenor says:

    It’s all been downhill since the League of Women Voters got out of the debate hosting business. They ran good debates but the candidates wanted too many demands so they could avoid talking about things they didn’t want to. Now what’s left is a joint press conference and even then they get mad if they actually have to ask any questions that don’t sound like they were written by their own staff.

  12. therling says:

    The presidential debate process changed in 1983 to make it easier for news organizations to sponsor them. Prior to that, the FCC’s Section 315 “Equal Time” rules required that debates had to be covered as “bona fide news events,” otherwise dozens of minor candidates would have been allowed to ask for and get “equal opportunity” comparable to what the media provided for major candidates appearing in the debates.

    What that means is that, instead of merely covering the debates as a news event, the media got into the business of holding the debates, and so candidates could negotiate the terms of the debate directly with the media, as opposed to having to go through a third party (like the League of Women Voters) who had no vested interest in the ratings.

    (Thank you, Ronald Reagan.)


  13. Laverne Bartholomew says:


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  14. crazymonkeylady says:

    Just NO.

  15. mark_in_toronto says:

    Will EVERYBODY please look up the definition of a debate?

    “A formal contest in which the affirmative and negative sides of a proposition are advocated by opposing speakers.”
    These are NOT debates.
    They are press conferences.

    “A prearranged interview with news reporters, held to elicit publicity or, as granted by a dignitary, public official, research scientist, etc., to fulfill a request from the press.”

    Thank you.

  16. BeccaM says:

    But I so enjoy the unexpected giggle every time it happens.

  17. mf_roe says:

    Shame on you for not adding it to your dictionary.

  18. BeccaM says:

    With a whole fleet of Waaaaaaambulances.

  19. BeccaM says:

    His parents must have been prescient.

    And unbelievably cruel, of course, it goes without saying. Personally, whenever typing his name, my autocorrect fixes it as “Rinse Pubis.”

  20. Max_1 says:

    The LWV didn’t as much ‘dump’ the debates as the RNC and DNC stepped in and insisted on orchestrating the outcomes after the Ross Perot debates.

  21. Max_1 says:

    Remove the vowels from Reince Priebus…
    … And you get RNC PR BS.

  22. Max_1 says:

    If the GOP can’t handle NBC…
    … How will they handle ISIS?

  23. BeccaM says:

    I miss the LWV-moderated debates… What we’re seeing now are nothing but scripted media events. Circus performances, really.

  24. BeccaM says:

    :-) Heck, I prefer to savor the times when I’m getting along well with someone than to dwell on the times we’ve disagreed.

  25. RepackRider says:

    Fun to see the party of anarchy wrestling with the rules for dealing with each other.

  26. Naja pallida says:

    Two hours? They already have that 24/7 on Fox.

  27. mf_roe says:

    Non-threatening hug.

  28. 2karmanot says:


  29. BeccaM says:

    I know — but that’s the mark of comity and honest debate: We can disagree and still find common ground later on.

  30. angryspittle says:

    Rancid Penis is a WATB. As are all the GOP candidates.

  31. angryspittle says:

    Great call!! Funny!

  32. mf_roe says:

    The Language barrier renders this a non-starter.

  33. mf_roe says:

    Cruz does, since he doesn’t use them, it speaks volumes. He holds the audience in total contempt and feels totally free to lie.

  34. nicho says:

    Here’s a better thought. Bring in a bunch of British MPs and run the “debate” like Prime Minister’s Question Time. I would pay to see each candidate be put through 30 minutes of constant grilling from the MPs. I’m guessing all the candidates would be crying by the end of the session.

  35. mf_roe says:

    Give Gates a break, his decision to build networking into Windows 3.11 was the real birth of the Internet. As for Win 10 the fact you can’t get into the administrator account speaks volumes. Try Linux Mint, painless PROMISE.

  36. nicho says:

    The so-called “debates” have been shit since the League of Women Voters, previous sponsor, dumped them in 1988 for “perpetrating a fraud” on the American public.

    WASHINGTON, DC —”The League of Women Voters is withdrawing its sponsorship of the presidential debate scheduled for mid-October because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter,” League President Nancy M. Neuman said today.

    “It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions,” Neuman said. “The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

    Neuman said that the campaigns presented the League with their debate agreement on
    September 28, two weeks before the scheduled debate. The campaigns’ agreement was negotiated “behind closed doors” and was presented to the League as “a done deal,” she said, its 16 pages of conditions not subject to negotiation.

    Most objectionable to the League, Neuman said, were conditions in the agreement that gave the campaigns unprecedented control over the proceedings. Neuman called “outrageous” the campaigns’ demands that they control the selection of questioners, the composition of the audience, hall access for the press and other issues.

  37. Indigo says:

    Actually, it’s Bill Gates that’s evil. Win 10 is just his latest expression of that. I turned off as many of the spy features as the Wired magazine article talked about, as for the rest, who knows? I’ve looked into Linux but . . . I’m lazy.

  38. mf_roe says:

    Win 10 is evil, worse Big Brother tool ever. hope you have turned off as much of the spy features as possible. Have you ever tried Linux? Open source and user directed sort of like being a real progressive.

  39. Indigo says:

    I run Firefox on my laptop but for some obscure reason I chose to run Chrome on my android pocket device. Probably because I have a handy Chromebook next to my easy chair in the front room. I’ve got Win10 and actually like it, though, but I haven’t even launched the Edge browser. I’m afraid of it.

  40. mf_roe says:

    You have tired of me before but I’m happy we stand together in the fight for making people actually defend their claims.

  41. BeccaM says:

    I think I’m in love with you and Indigo both today. <3

  42. Jon Green says:

    Thanks for pointing this out. I’m using a pretty widely-used plugin that works fine for my iPhone, but I didn’t know that it was shorting out on other devices. Will do some new plugin hunting over the weekend.

  43. mf_roe says:

    Firefox experience? My laptop version allows you to customize view settings by site, and reader view is really useful on sites burdened with unnecessary graphics.

  44. Indigo says:

    I have the uncomfortable impression that they don’t know the protocols.

  45. Indigo says:

    Same here. And Eisenhower was president when I was in high school.

  46. mf_roe says:

    NONE of them even begin to qualify, the first requirement is complete understanding of the issues on both sides of the question.

  47. mf_roe says:

    Hallelujah! High School speech classes address the questions better than the infomercial format now in vogue.

  48. BeccaM says:

    Love the proposal. But not a single major candidate in either party would ever agree to such terms. ;-)

  49. Indigo says:

    Here’s a thought: stage an actual debate using Debating Society protocols.

  50. BeccaM says:

    Correct, and they never are, not nowadays. I think the last time I saw a proper debate was the ones I participated in, in high school.

  51. Indigo says:

    And it wasn’t really a debate anyhow.

  52. BeccaM says:

    CNBS’s “handling of the debate was handled in bad faith”?

    No, it was just handled incompetently and amateurishly. Most of the questions were perfectly valid. A few were vapid and awful and should never have been asked. Like, “What do you say is your biggest weakness?” C’mon — they don’t even ask that dreck in job interviews anymore because everybody knows it’s the world’s stupidest, most pointless question.

    And if you’re gonna ask a question about Trump referring to Rubio as “Mark Zuckerberg’s Senator,” you need to be able to point to exactly where and when Trumpy said this. It’s become a truism among the GOPers now: When asked about a particular statement, they will flat out LIE about their own documented statements and positions. Not just a little, but completely.

    The worst problem, however, was the lack of experience on the part of the moderators who were given a job they clearly weren’t up to doing. Too many candidates. Too little advanced preparation on the part of the moderators. None had any clue how to control the debate itself.

  53. Indigo says:

    Once in a while, I’ll use my android to pull up Chrome and go to AmBlog from there. It’s not too handy, though. My display is acceptable, yes, but like you say, the print is microscopic. But that’s okay. I can wait until I get home to my trusty laptop.

  54. gratuitous says:

    Oh noes! Republicans and NBC fighting again. Will this last as long or even longer than the feud between NBC and Donald Trump? Electronic stop watches only register to a thousandth of a second.

  55. mf_roe says:

    No Americablog app at play store, what software or provider are you referring to?

  56. mf_roe says:

    Get rid of the moderators, period. Give the RNC two hours to showcase this menagerie of venal morons.
    Five minutes in and it would be a full fledged bar brawl. My bitch is that CNBC made such an effort trying to make this bunch of greedy liars look like people actually concerned with anything other than their selves.

  57. emjayay says:

    Wonkette transcribed all the questions. They were all substantive other than the classic stupid job interview question about what is your weakness, if all burdened with too much extra embroidery. It was the answers that sucked. Also, not being a real debate where someone else argues with what you say, it was really a panel job interview but mostly without the moderators’ ability to challenge anyone with actual facts or decent follow up questions.

  58. emjayay says:

    The mobile version of Americablog is worthless, at least on Android. The type size is microscopic. The headlines are unreadable light blue on white until you click on the article, and then they are white on a color butdisplaywithnospacesbetweenthewords. The print continues to be microscopic and cannot be expanded unlike other blogs.

  59. Chas Holman says:

    The GOP will get their red meat base frothing at the mouth, then empty their pockets fundraising from the nonsense.

    They all act like is all so new to them and that they got the ‘If Kitty Dukakis was raped and murdered’ question.

    They didn’t like it when CNBC asked them questions.
    They didn’t like it when CNN asked them questions.
    They didn’t like it when FOX asked them questions.

    Apparently, the C in RNC must stand for ‘chronic complainers’…..

  60. dommyluc says:

    If I was head of NBC, I would issue the following statement:
    “We regret the non-participation of the Republican Party in the February debate. And since we do not want to soil their candidates with any of our “liberal bias”, we have decided to cancel all upcoming appearances by all scheduled Republican guests, and we will make sure that no Republican candidates, politicians, or executives at the RNC will be allowed on NBC or any of our sister networks, including MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo, etc. We hope this meets with a satisfactory response from Mr. Priebus and the rest of the spineless pussies of the Republican Party.”
    When is the media finally going to wake up and realize they don’t need these motherfuckers – the RNC needs them. So tell them to go to FoxNews or stream on the batshit crazy sites of Glenn Beck and Matt Drudge. And as far as the February debate goes, NBC should have cardboard cutouts of all the remaining candidates and have Rachel Maddow moderate the debate, with the questions picked by the Democratic candidates. The RNC will be BEGGING for forgiveness, believe me!

  61. FLL says:

    They can’t stand the heat, so they got out of the kitchen, which is their prerogative. This also gives American voters another piece of information with which to make their decision.

  62. Doug105 says:

    Sure the Liberal Media is what made them look bad.

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