Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus repeatedly warned this week that if networks show proposed biographies of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (D), the party would not let them or their affiliates host any 2016 GOP primary debates. But Priebus said Sunday that despite reports that a Fox company might be brought in to actually produce the Clinton mini-series, the his boycott would not extend to Fox News Channel.
Earlier this week, Priebus told MSNBC’s Morning Joe that if NBC or CNN shows what he considers to be free advertising for a potential 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, the Republican Party should refuse to partner with them on any primary debates. His reasoning was that debate moderators must be “interested in the future of the Republican Party,” and that any company that would show a biography of a major Democratic political figure would therefore not be sufficiently biased toward his party. Because NBC is the parent company of MSNBC, he suggested that Republicans would not debate on that network either.
But the New York Times reported over the weekend that though Republican critics have objected to NBC broadcasting a Hillary Clinton mini-series, “the project may wind up being produced by another company: Fox Television Studios, the sister company of the conservative favorite, Fox News.” A Fox spokeswoman told the paper that while there is no deal yet in place, NBC is in “the early stages” of discussions to have Fox serve as the production company for the mini-series.
On CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, Crowley asked Priebus whether such a boycott would apply to Fox News. He responded that the boycott would only apply to the networks showing the biography:
PRIEBUS: Our party has to quit availing itself to biased moderators and companies that put on television, in this particular case, documentaries and mini-series about a particular candidate that we all know is gearing up to run for president and that’s Hillary Clinton and so the big question for me, Candy is number one, which company is putting it on the air. Who is doing the work? I’m not interested if they’re using the same caterer or whether they all drink Diet Coke and I’m not boycotting Diane Lane. I am going to boycott the company that puts the mini-series and the documentaries on the air for the American people to view. I’m not interested in whether they use the same sound studio or whether they use the same set.
Priebus dismissed Fox’s potential involvement as “some researcher” finding a “little connection somewhere down the road … to bring something into this debate.”
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Earlier this year, the Republican National Committee released a post-mortem report on its losses in the 2012 elections. The report — commissioned by Priebus — concluded that, “The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.”
Asked by on Fox News Sunday by host Chris Wallace about the Priebus boycott threat, Republican strategist Chip Saltsman noted that RNC members were “very excited” that their chairman had “laid down the gauntlet.”