ICYMI: RNC Chairman Reince Priebus on CNN
“…CNN and NBC can do what they want to do. That’s their right. But it is also my right… to say if you go forward with this, then I’m going to choose not to include you in the debate process…” said Chairman Priebus
WASHINGTON — Last evening, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus joined Erin Burnett on “OutFront” to discuss withholding partnerships with CNN and NBC for Republican presidential primary debates in 2016 if the networks don’t drop their plans to air programs about Hillary Clinton, ahead of her likely candidacy for president in 2016.
View transcript excerpts below and watch the clip here: http://ow.ly/nHhO8
Read the Chairman’s letters to CNN and NBC: http://ow.ly/nEK6S
ERIN BURNETT: Joining me now is Reince Priebus. Good to see you as always Reince. And let me start, obviously, this is CNN. So you’re on CNN. I work for CNN. Here at CNN, the program that we’re talking about comes from the CNN films division, not the news arm that I’m an employee of and obviously at NBC, I know it is a similar idea. What’s your specific problem with the films?
RNC CHAIRMAN REINCE PRIEBUS: Well, you know, I just think that groups like NBC and CNN that are in the business of news ought to take into consideration the fact that if you want to actually moderate and produce a debate that chooses a nominee for president on the Republican side of the aisle, that it would be reasonable to have the Chairman of the Party say hang on a second, you ought not be doing feature films or documentaries and mini-series about what we know to be a very likely candidate that is running on the Democratic side of the aisle. Look, CNN and NBC can do what they want to do. That’s their right. But it is also my right, Erin, as Chairman of the Party, to say if you go forward with this, then I’m going to choose not to include you in the debate process and the moderating of our primary debates in our Party. I think this is a reasonable thing for me to be doing. And I think it is actually something that a Chairman of a national party ought to be doing given the situation.
BURNETT: Let me ask you this, here’s what I know about the CNN documentary and I’m not going to talk for NBC because I don’t know and I don’t work for CNN films either. I know that they commissioned a feature length documentary, an important word on Hillary Rodham Clinton and the director of it is an Academy Award winning director, I know you’re well aware of this, Charles Ferguson. Ferguson made the film, “Inside Job,” some of our viewers maybe familiar with, and a review of that film in The Nation, which as you’re well aware as a liberal magazine said, his film attacks the Bush administration and offers an equally scathing evaluation of President Obama. So a liberal man slammed a Democratic president. I know you’ve called the CNN film an in kind donation to the campaign. How do you know this documentary by CNN films might not be really nasty about Hillary and therefore helpful for the RNC?
CHAIRMAN PRIEBUS: Actually, I don’t think it matters. I don’t think it matters if it is really negative or really positive. I think presidential elections are largely elections that go to the point of popularity. I think it is a cult of personality that’s being built. If Hillary Clinton runs, which it looks like she is gearing up to, then she will just build up her campaign. Use the fact that news networks are building up her name, even if it is negative, unless you’re an idiot like Anthony Weiner, generally, I will tell you, generally, Erin, these are positive developments for candidates. It builds up that cult of personality and CNN is going to play a role in it. I don’t think you should. I don’t think your network should be playing a role in building up Hillary Clinton. If Hillary doesn’t run, then they’ll have plenty of time to run all the documentaries in the world about Hillary Clinton. So CNN doesn’t have to proceed right now.
CHAIRMAN PRIEBUS: Well, look, there are plenty of people and groups that would love to host our debates. The fact is, what you’re showing here is making our case. That we ought not to have moderators that are in the business of make news at the expense of our party and our candidates moderate our debates. Moreover, we ought not to have moderators and companies that are in the business of promoting a Democratic opponent three years before an election. So you’re making our case, which is number one, NBC and CNN ought to halt their promotional movies of Hillary Clinton.
BURNETT: You’re saying if we air anything on Hillary Clinton, even if it is nasty, it is promoting her, right?
CHAIRMAN PRIEBUS: It doesn’t matter. The fact is, if your company is so interested in spending millions of dollars in promoting Hillary Clinton when they know darn well that Hillary Clinton and the people around her are gearing up for a presidential election, then that is a choice that as a news agency that is trying to be, at least claims to be, fair, ought to stop in their tracks and start to think about what the effects of that are. If you don’t care, if CNN doesn’t care, that’s fine, then I don’t care either. We move on without CNN and without NBC. It is pretty simple. There’s plenty of media out there for us to work with.
BURNETT: There are, and of course if you got rid of CNN and you got rid of NBC, that would leave you with, when it come to the primaries, the vast majority are on cable so you would have a lot possibly on FOX. That’s why I wanted to ask you about this—.
CHAIRMAN PRIEBUS: You have FOX, you have PBS, you have ABC, you have CBS, you have a lot of other channels on cable. We can do Salem Communications, we can do radio, we can do town halls, we can do Lincoln-Douglas debates. The sun doesn’t rise and set with CNN and NBC. Erin, I like you. I don’t have a problem with you. But this is easy to understand.
CHAIRMAN PRIEBUS: …The question is, if the Party is going to spend time and money and resources and organizing an intelligent, reasonable debate calendar, should we have networks and moderators that are promoting Hillary Clinton depose our candidates? And I say no way.
BURNETT: Thanks very much to Reince Priebus.