Today the GOP threatened to cancel 2016 GOP primary debates on NBC and CNN. According to RNC chairman Reince Priebus, CNN’s upcoming Hillary Clinton documentary and NBC’s forthcoming Clinton mini-series are to blame. Zeke J Miller sees other motivations:
Republican Party officials believe the 20 GOP primary debates during the 2012 cycle hurt their party and Mitt Romney, the eventual nominee. CNN’s John King, in particular, drew attacks when he questioned former Speaker of the House New Gingrich about his prior marital infidelities in a debate before the South Carolina primary, while Republicans have long been weary of working with NBC given the liberal-leanings of its cable network MSNBC. Priebus has previously proposed a more modest 10 to 12 debates, in part to protect better-funded candidates from insurgents who capitalize on their time before the cameras.
Alyssa makes related points:
Given that the Republican Party seems no closer than it was in 2012 to reaching a decisive break between its radical and moderate wings, if I were Priebus, I might want to keep that debate between them as far away from mass audiences as possible. Given how far moderate Republicans like Mitt Romney have had to run to the right during their primary campaigns, one of the things that debates do is generate a vast trove of high-quality clips of things that the eventual nominee will eventually have to try to explain away in a shortened general election season. If I were Priebus, I’d want as few of those debates as possible, and I’d want them to happen further from the public eye so my eventual candidate has less baggage that can eventually be hung around her or his neck.