It’s official. The governing body of the Republican Party voted today to not partner with NBC News and CNN for debates during the 2016 presidential primary season. Yawn. As The Post’s Phillip Rucker pointed out on Twitter, “NBC & CNN can still stage debates regardless of RNC vote if candidates decide to appear. Don’t need RNC approval to make TV.” But that didn’t stop Republican Committee Chairman Reince Priebus from pushing it.
“We’re done putting up with this nonsense,” Priebus said before the vote. The “nonsense” is plans for television biographies of Hillary Clinton. NBC Entertainment plans to shoot a miniseries produced by Fox Television Studios (ahem) on the life of the former secretary of state. CNN plans a documentary on the former first lady and senator from New York that will air on television and go in theaters. But the real nonsense is that Priebus has spent so much time publicly flogging this fauxtroversy instead of showing leadership on the serious issues facing the country or the substantive issues facing his party.
Priebus has been bellyaching for weeks now about the “liberal media” using the primary debates to tear down Republican contenders. The cavalcade of debates in 2012 did a number on the GOP. While Priebus points a finger at the number of debates and their moderators, he would do well to remember that the GOP field was a clown car of woefully unprepared candidates out of step with the nation. But that’s a minor point, I suppose.
What Priebus and other Republicans don’t want to accept is that the moderators aren’t the problem. Bill Scher, executive editor of LiberalOasis.com, in an appearance on MSNBC moments after the news broke, zeroed in on the real trouble the Republicans had during the 2012 primary debates. It wasn’t the questions they were asked that was the problem, it was the answers they gave. If the GOP spent more time on fixing that than on attention-getting boycotts it wouldn’t be in as much trouble as it is.
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