RNC Resolution Accidentally Makes Case Against Fox News Hosting 2016 Debates


Fox News Channel logoThe Republican National Committee will vote on a resolution Friday to codify Chairman Reince Priebus’ earlier threats that the party will not partner with networks on 2016 primary debates if they proceed with plans to broadcast biographies of former Sec. of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. But while the text of the proposed resolution focuses only on CNN and NBC News, its language on campaign contributions and network partisanship also makes a compelling case for the party to also boycott its friends at Fox News Channel.

Last 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.

The resolution, posted Friday by NBC News producer Frank Thorp V, makes the same threat, singling out NBC especially for alleged bias:

WHEREAS, airing this programming with jeopardize the credibility of CNN and NBC as supposedly unbiased news networks and undermine the perceived objectivity of the coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign by these networks; and

WHEREAS, Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, contributed the maximum amount to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign committee, contributed $25,000 to Obama’s 2012 Victory Fund, and this year contributed $10,000 to the Democratic National Committee; …

It calls for NBC and CNN to “cancel the airing of these political ads masked as unbiased entertainment” and warns that otherwise, the RNC will “neither partner with these networks in the 2016 presidential primary debates nor sanction any primary debates they sponsor.”

If the RNC is truly concerned about the political contributions of media executives, it should look closely at both the corporate political action committee for and the personal giving of the founder, chairman and CEO of News Corporation, parent company of Fox News Channel. Though both News America Holdings PAC and Rupert Murdoch have given extensively to both parties, they have donated to some very prominent Democrats. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the company PAC has given more to Democrats than Republicans in each of the last four election cycles — including $6,500 to Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), $19,000 to Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), $12,000 to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and $10,000 to Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Murdock’s contributions include the legal maximum of $4,200 to Hillary Clinton.

In the past, some critics have noted that conservative favorite Fox News is also not entirely “fair and balanced.” Over a recent 12 month period, it gave millions of dollars in free airtime to political contributor Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads under the guise of being news. It also put several Republicans who are or were considered potential presidential candidates a salary and a platform, including John Bolton, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Rick Santorum. But Fox News also has hired frequent Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich, who could well run again in 2016 — potentially opening up the network to charges of aiding a potential Democratic contender.

Although Fox Television Studios is reportedly a contender to serve as production company for the NBC miniseries, Priebus said he had no intention of boycotting its sister company, favorite Fox News. That, he suggested, would be akin to boycotting the caterer. Still, he and the resolution acknowledge no distinction between NBC’s news division and its entertainment section.


The resolution was adopted unanimously.

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