LOS ANGELES, August 19, 2013 — The Republican National Committee has decided to boycott CNN and MSNBC during the 2016 GOP presidential primary debates. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus made the motion at the RNC’s meeting in Boston on Friday. It passed unanimously.
The resolution was spurred by the decision of both networks to produce movies about Hillary Clinton that are expected to be glowing tributes. Clinton is widely expected to seek and win the 2016 Democratic nomination, leading the RNC to accuse MSNBC and CNN of trying to influence the 2016 presidential election in Clinton’s favor.
Some media feathers will be ruffled by this decision, it had to be done. There is no rational reason for the GOP to conduct debates on these networks.
The RNC decision has a precedent. In 2012, Democrats boycotted Fox News on ideological grounds. The GOP does not see a benefit to holding philosophical debates among their candidates with moderators sharing a completely different philosophy.
Primaries are run by the Parties; they are an exclusive club. The Party and the candidates are under no obligation to invite anyone they distrust to host or sponsor a debate. Republicans may have to put up with a CNN moderator in debates with a Democrat before the general election, but not during the primaries.
MSNBC has branded itself as the politically progressive network. Its prime-time lineup is unabashedly partisan, its hosts engaging in advocacy, not news reporting. Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Lawrence O’Donnell, and Al Sharpton aren’t just politically liberal commentators, but political activists as well.
Unlike Fox News, MSNBC does not have an actual news division, relying on NBC News correspondents like Chuck Todd to report some occasional news. A recent Pew study showed that MSNBC’s content is 85 percent opinion and only 15 percent hard news.
In a 2012 GOP debate, liberal opinion columnist Beth Reinhardt of the National Journal was allowed to moderate. She prefaced her question with a personal opinion, announcing that the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts “didn’t work.” She was completely wrong. They did work exactly as intended. She then began another question about illegal immigration by implying that the GOP disliked Mexicans.
The big picture in this entire debate about debates is that the RNC is the customer and the networks are the salespeople. For a long time, the liberal media monopoly dictated the terms of debates because there was no conservative media. The rise of conservative media has coincided with the collapse of ratings for liberal opinion in newspapers, television programs, and radio shows. Fox News has higher ratings than CNN and MSNBC combined. There is nothing for Republicans to gain by going on networks with low ratings and a hostile ideological agenda.
Ratings matter, and surely a debate moderated by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin would produce plenty of tough questions and sharp exchanges. These guys do not use kid gloves.
Republican primaries are for Republicans, conservatives, and other center-right individuals to observe their candidates. MSNBC has specifically marketed itself to people who would never consider voting Republican.
CNN and MSNBC have every right to carry water for the Clinton campaign. They also have the right to insist that they are not doing so. Yet the RNC is the customer, and the customer has every right to refuse to purchase the product the networks are trying to sell. This is especially true when that product has crashed in marketable value.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
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