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Republicans Suspend Partnership With NBC Over CNBC’s ‘Bad Faith’ Debate

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ALONZO ADAMS
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ALONZO ADAMS

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus sent a letter on Friday to NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack saying they would be “suspending the partnership” with the news organization for the scheduled February debate over the “bad faith” approach to the CNBC debate on Wednesday.

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

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The suspension of a debate partner is a highly unusual move. Many on both the left and the right blasted CNBC’s moderation of the debate. Moderators cut candidates off and refused to allow them to engage with one another.

In a big moment of the night, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) blasted the questions the moderators asked, claiming that CNBC — the network that helped inspire the Tea Party movement — was suffering from liberal bias and tried to turn the debate into a “cage match.”

Priebus said, “Questions were inaccurate or downright offensive” and that “CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of ‘gotcha’ questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates.”

Though the RNC is suspending its partnership with NBC News over the debate, Priebus said, “We still fully intend to have a debate on that day, and will ensure that National Review remains part of it.”

Priebus was silent, however, on the future involvement of the Spanish language TV network Telemundo, who was also supposed to be a partner organization for the February debate.

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Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s campaign provided a statement to the Daily Caller, saying they support the RNC’s decision to suspend the partnership with NBC News, and they “look forward to pursuing alternatives along with the RNC to ensure candidates are given ample opportunity to outline their vision for the future of our country.”

NBC responded in a statement, calling the RNC’s move a “disappointing development” and vowing to “work in good faith to resolve this matter.”

Despite RNC’s turn on CNBC, however, a piece in the New York Times reported a high level of coordination between the network and the committee, with communications director Sean Spicer saying he spent “easily 80 percent” of his time on planning the debate.