RNC Threatens NBC, CNN Over Hillary Clinton Programming

Priebus says he'll pull support for 2016 debates on both media outlets

It's only 2013 and Hillary Clinton hasn't even declared she's a presidential candidate yet—but already the 2016 presidential election is getting nasty. The GOP took NBC and CNN to task Monday in a pair of letters, accusing both media outlets of taking sides in the 2016 presidential election for intending to air programs about Hillary Clinton. 

NBC recently announced plans to run a miniseries about the former secretary of state and first lady, while CNN is producing a documentary.

In letters to NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt and CNN president Jeff Zucker, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, threatened to pull any support for debates aired by the two media outlets.

"If you have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC's summer meeting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates which you sponsor," Priebus wrote.

Priebus accused both Zucker and Greenblatt of playing politics with programming by attempting to influence the election to the detriment of other contenders, both Democratic and Republican.

"It's appalling to know executives at major networks like NBC and CNN who have donated to Democrats and Hillary Clinton have taken it upon themselves to be Hillary Clinton's campaign operatives," Priebus said in a statement. "Their actions to promote Secretary Clinton are disturbing and disappointing."

Operating under the presumption that the programs will paint a positive picture of Clinton, Priebus suggested that such programming could tarnish the reputations of both news organizations. "I hope Americans will question the credibility of these networks and that NBC and CNN will reconsider their partisan actions and cancel these political ads masked as unbiased entertainment," Priebus said.

In a statement, an NBC News spokeswoman used the Chinese wall defense: "NBC News is completely independent of NBC Entertainment and has no involvement in this project."

CNN called Priebus' accusations premature. "This documentary will be a nonfiction look at the life of a former First Lady and Secretary of State. … We would encourage the members of the Republican National Committee to reserve judgment until they know more," CNN said in a statement. "Should they decide not to participate in debates on CNN, we would find it curious, as limiting their debate participation seems to be the ultimate disservice to voters."