GOP suspends future debate with NBC
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GOP suspends future debate with NBC
Welcome to Trail Guide, your daily host through the wilds of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's Friday, Oct. 30, and this is what we're watching: Republicans took their revenge today against what they called a presidential debate full of “inaccurate or downright offensive” questions by suspending a future session planned with NBC News. Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, has been under pressure from candidates and core supporters to take more control over the process, following CNBC’s debate Wednesday night. His letter to NBC News on Friday conceded that the network has no direct journalistic control over CNBC, a financial network owned by the parent company, “but the network is an arm of your organization.” Priebus stopped short of canceling the NBC/Telemundo debate, scheduled for Feb. 26 at the University of Houston, and may be seeking leverage in changing the debate rules or sending a signal to other debate hosts that the tone of questioning must change. “We simply cannot continue with NBC without full consultation with our campaigns,” Priebus wrote. NBC News appeared to seize on that opening in its response, which called the suspension a “disappointing development” but promised to work with Telemundo, which is owned by NBCUniversal, to “in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party.” The debate is also important to the Republican Party’s goal of reaching out to Latino viewers, giving the network some added leverage. Despite complaints that the CNBC moderators were unnecessarily combative, several candidates appear to have benefited by criticizing their questions. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie used critiques of the debate’s tone to their rhetorical advantage, winning applause from the live audience in Boulder, Colo. Each claims to have garnered significant donations from supporters as a result. Here’s a full copy of the letter and NBC’s response: Mr. Andrew Lack Chairman, NBC News 30 Rockefeller Plaza New York, New York 10112 Dear Mr. Lack, I write to inform you that pending further discussion between the Republican National Committee (RNC) and our presidential campaigns, we are suspending the partnership with NBC News for the Republican primary debate at the University of Houston on February 26, 2016. 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. CNBC billed the debate as one that would focus on “the key issues that matter to all voters—job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy.” That was not the case. Before the debate, the candidates were promised an opening question on economic or financial matters. That was not the case. Candidates were promised that speaking time would be carefully monitored to ensure fairness. That was not the case. Questions were inaccurate or downright offensive. The first question directed to one of our candidates asked if he was running a comic book version of a presidential campaign, hardly in the spirit of how the debate was billed. While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of “gotcha” questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates. What took place Wednesday night was not an attempt to give the American people a greater understanding of our candidates’ policies and ideas. I have tremendous respect for the First Amendment and freedom of the press. However, I also expect the media to host a substantive debate on consequential issues important to Americans. CNBC did not. While we are suspending our partnership with NBC News and its properties, we still fully intend to have a debate on that day, and will ensure that National Review remains part of it. I will be working with our candidates to discuss how to move forward and will be in touch. Sincerely, Reince Priebus Chairman, Republican National Committee STATEMENT FROM NBC NEWS “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.”

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