Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus announced Friday that the RNC would no longer sanction the NBC debate scheduled for February, because of CNBC’s brutally awful treatment of Republican candidates in Wednesday night’s debate.
Priebus, who became the prime target for dissatisfied Republicans over his greenlighting of the s***show, obviously felt the need to signify his discontent with CNBC’s handling of the event. He wrote NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack:
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.
The media, naturally, are rallying around CNBC. So they’re engaging a defensive strategy most often recommended by idiot leftist college administrators to prospective rape victims: they’re peeing on themselves.
Why don’t other media outlets doing GOP debates come together and refuse to hold theirs bc of this? Parties shouldn’t have this power
— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) October 30, 2015
NBC statement is less upset than i am pic.twitter.com/aLqOUQfxmH
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) October 30, 2015
RNC tells NBC it will suspend partnership for Feb 26 debate in Houston. what a ridiculous joke.
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) October 30, 2015
officially over all the debate whining https://t.co/MZAX6sb3Tw
— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) October 30, 2015
Both Terkel and Stein work for the media outlet that decided to cover Donald Trump’s candidacy in its entertainment section, deeming him too much of a “sideshow” to place in their news section. BuzzFeed is a far-left outlet most famous for its cat videos. Clearly, these objective journalistic luminaries should be the arbiters of appropriate Republican debate scheduling.
But even some of the less partisan media are in on this act:
So, any time a debate is poorly executed, a network risks future debates being de-sanctioned by RNC? Seems harsh. https://t.co/RCr4wOp1BA
— Rebecca Berg (@rebeccagberg) October 30, 2015
Berg works for Real Clear Politics. But this is absurd, of course. The RNC has a job to do. They didn’t do it by putting out their candidates like ninepins to be knocked over the by progressives’ bowling balls, such as Carl Quintanilla.
Overall, the media’s kickback against the Republican Party is part of the general strategy to demonize the right. The media’s kabuki theater here – head-butting Republican candidates on national television, then throwing up their hands in feigned victimhood when Republicans respond – has the general effect of making Republicans seem extreme. After all, the argument goes, Republicans signed off on the CNBC debate format. How can they complain afterward about bias from the moderators?
What’s more, the leftist media will now continue to portray the Republican Party as in thrall to its most conservative elements, ignoring the fact that virtually all Republicans saw the debate as the leftist equivalent of the penthouse/helicopter scene from Godfather III. No, say the media, if it weren’t for those dastardly Tea Party types, we’d all just accept that “serious questioning” – read, leftist talking points – are the way of the world.
That’s the angle CNBC is pushing today, in the aftermath of their self-parodic debate. First, their moderators claim that they were “shell-shocked” by the response to their performance – an amazing claim, given their near-universally-acknowledged utter hackery. Either the moderators live in Pauline Kael’s basement, or they’re lying that they didn’t know what they were doing.
Second, CNBC’s executives say that they won’t be backing down from future Republican debates – as though the GOP will ever give them that opportunity gain.
This version of “You can’t fire me, I quit!” spin came from the mouth of spokesperson Brian Steel, who said “It’s critical that those who seek to be the leader of the free world face substantive, challenging questions on interest rates, social security, the debt limit, student loans and taxes to name a few.” He’s right. That would have been awesome. Sadly, John Harwood was too busy being a raging dick to ask about such matters of import.
But that won’t be the story the media tell. They write the narrative.
Therein lies the problem.
No matter the circumstances, Republicans will always be the bad guys. Reince Priebus should have known this going into the debates. The RNC’s job is in direct conflict with the media’s preference: the RNC should be promoting its candidates and ideas, the the media have a dual goal of ratings and attacking Republicans. They get to fulfill both at once if the RNC makes candidates subject to the media’s profit- and ideologically-driven agenda.
All of which would be fine if the media gave Democrats the same treatment. They don’t. The media are happy to grab whatever ratings they can from Democratic debates, but they share an agenda with the Democratic National Committee: promoting Democratic candidates. There’s a reason the media said virtually nothing when Democrats pulled a presidential debate from Fox News in 2007 over a joke made by Roger Ailes ripping George W. Bush. Seriously.
And so the RNC should do something different: they should stop treating the debates as entertainment for the exploitation of media, and they should start treating the debates as informational opportunities for Republican primary voters. The RNC should hold their debates publicly, livestream them, appoint moderators trusted by Republicans, and invite all media to cover them equally. The small monetary cost of holding such debates will be greatly outweighed by the fact that the Republican-hating media won’t control the forum.
Reince Priebus had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the proper reaction to CNBC’s debacle; the campaigns were reportedly planning to cut the RNC out of the debate process altogether. Now it’s time to go one step further, and to remove the power of the establishment media altogether to control the Republican nomination process.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News, Editor-in-Chief of DailyWire.com, and The New York Times bestselling author, most recently, of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.