US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reads through documents at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Dublin on December 6, 2012. (KEVIN LAMARQUE/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (USA Today) -- Republican party Chairman Reince Priebus is giving two thumbs down to TV movies about Hillary Clinton. The GOP leader is threatening not to let CNN and NBC participate in Republican presidential primary debates in 2016 if the networks don't drop plans for programs about Clinton, a possible presidential candidate.
Priebus has sent letters to CNN, which plans a documentary on Clinton, and NBC, which plans a miniseries about her starring Diane Lane, claiming the programs are "a thinly veiled attempt to put a thumb on the scales'' for the 2016 election. The networks must cancel the shows by August 14 when a Republican National Committee meeting convenes, or the party will vote to ban them from sponsoring primary debates, Priebus writes.
Priebus' letter assumes NBC's miniseries will be favorable to Clinton because, he says, executives of Comcast, NBC's parent, have been Democratic donors. To CNN, he said, "I call on you to cancel this political ad masquerading as an unbiased production.''
The RNC sees no free-speech infringement in its request. "We have the right to pick who has our debates,'' spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski said. spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski said. "The networks have a right to make their decision and we can act accordingly."
Cutting off NBC and CNN from primary debates would serve one of the GOP's goals: to limit the number of times the Republican candidates face off against each other. In the 2012 campaign, GOP candidates participated in 20 debates. In its postmortem report after the election, the RNC proposed limiting party-sanctioned debates to 10 or 12. "The number of debates has become ridiculous,'' the report said. "They're taking candidates away from other important campaign activities.'