Friday, 30 October 2015

US Republicans suspend partnership over debate

US Republicans suspend partnership

The Republican National Committee (RNC) announced Friday that it is suspending its relationship with NBC News following the third GOP presidential primary debate this week.


RNC Chairman Reince Priebus wrote a letter to NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack saying that the organization’s sole role in the primary debate process is to ensure that its candidates are given a full and fair opportunity to outline their vision for the future of the United States.

This was not the case, Priebus said, for the conservative politicians onstage at the University of Colorado’s Coors Events Center in Boulder on Wednesday evening.

“The CNBC network is one of your media properties, and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith,” the letter reads. “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.”

According to Priebus, the business news channel did not deliver on several promises: (1) The debate did not focus on key issues that matter to voters, such as job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the national economy; (2) candidates did not receive opening questions on the economy or finance; and (3) speaking time was not monitored carefully to ensure fairness.

The conservative leader characterized the questions as “inaccurate or downright offensive.” He cited the first question directed to party frontrunner Donald Trump as to whether he was running a “comic-book version of a presidential campaign” as an example.

Jeb Bush, gesturing, is flanked by, left to right, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Ben Carson during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado in Boulder on Oct. 28. (Photo: Mark J. Terrill/AP)

“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,” the letter continues. “What took place Wednesday night was not an attempt to give the American people a greater understanding of our candidates’ policies and ideas.”

Priebus said he respects the First Amendment and freedom of the press but also expects the media to host a “substantive debate on consequential issues” — something he said CNBC failed to do.

The next Republican presidential debate scheduled to air on an NBC network was slated for Feb. 26, 2016. Its sponsors were NBC/Telemundo and the conservative magazine National Review.

“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,” he said.

Priebus said he will discuss the best ways to move forward with the Republican Party’s presidential candidates.

In response, NBC News released this statement:

“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.”

The mounting tension was evident during the debate as the candidates and the moderators shared several heated moments.