The Republican National Committee, responding to plans by two television networks for programs about Hillary Rodham Clinton, approved a resolution Friday to block CNN and NBC from hosting GOP presidential primary debates.
The unanimous vote affirmed RNC Chairman Reince Priebus‘s threat against the networks if they went ahead with programs about Clinton, a possible Democratic presidential contender. Priebus said CNN has “an obvious bias.”
“That’s a network that won’t be hosting a single Republican primary debate,” Priebus declared, receiving a standing ovation from Republican activists from across the country gathered for the committee’s summer meeting in Boston.
In a statement, CNN said a division of the company planned to air a documentary about Clinton in 2014.
“The project is in the very early stages of development, months from completion,” the CNN statement read. “We encouraged all interested parties to wait until the program premieres before judgments are made about it. Unfortunately, the RNC was not willing to do that.”
Meanwhile, the Fox TV Studios has decided not to help produce NBC’s “Hillary” miniseries, said Leslie Oren, the company’s spokeswoman. Fox’s participation attracted attention because it is owned by News Corp. and is a sister company to the Fox News Channel, where the project has come under attack from commentators.
The studio’s decision adds to the already considerable doubt within NBC that the miniseries will ever get made.
Later Friday, a statement from NBC appeared to hedge on the miniseries’ future. A script is being written but the project has not been ordered to production, said Bob Greenblatt, NBC Entertainment chairman.
“It is ‘in development,’ the first stage of any television series or movie, many of which never go to production,” Greenblatt said. “Speculation, demands, and declarations pertaining to something that isn’t created or produced yet seem premature.”
In July, when Greenblatt announced the project and Diane Lane’s casting as Clinton, the only uncertainty seemed to be when it might air and who would play former President Bill Clinton.
The NBC entertainment division’s decision to go ahead with the project was made without consultation with NBC’s news division. Some NBC News people, including political director Chuck Todd and Washington reporter Andrea Mitchell, have attacked the idea as something that would make life difficult for the news division.
Even before the Clinton dispute, Republican leaders favored plans to have fewer presidential debates with more friendly moderators. They believe their 2012 presidential candidates spent too much time beating up on each other in last year’s monthslong primary season, contributing to Mitt Romney’s loss.
“Our party should not be involved in setting up a system that encourages the slicing and dicing of candidates over a long period of time with moderators that are not in the business of being at all concerned about the future of our party,” Priebus told reporters.
Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin criticized Friday’s vote.
“Instead of modifying their policies to actually present smart solutions for middle class families, the only thing the GOP can unite behind is a plan to continue to limit the audiences — and voters — to whom they will communicate,” he said.
AP Television Writers David Bauder in New York and Lynn Elber in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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