GOP Threatens To Pull Out of 2016 Primary Debates Over Hillary Film Projects

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 5 2013 12:15 PM

GOP Threatens To Pull Out of 2016 Primary Debates If Those Planned Hillary Films Happen

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to guests at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on June 13, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus on Monday told NBC and CNN executives to choose between proceeding with their planned Hillary Clinton-themed event programming and hosting future GOP presidential primary debates.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

In individual letters to both companies, Priebus called the recently announced projects "thinly veiled [attempts] at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election," and threatened an end to primary debate cooperation with the networks if execs don't quickly scrap their plans. "If you have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC's Summer Meeting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates which you sponsor," Priebus writes.

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Late last month NBC announced that it was working on a miniseries about Clinton that will star Diane Lane as the former first lady. Two days later, CNN announced its own plans for a feature-length Hillary documentary to be directed by Inside Job's Charles H. Ferguson. While neither has a concrete release date, both appear designed to capitalize on the buzz around a potential White House bid by the former secretary of state.

While both NBC and CNN's news divisions have distanced themselves from the projects, Priebus says that the films are nonetheless unfair to both Republicans and any Democrat not named Clinton. "This special treatment is unfair to the candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2016 who might compete against Secretary Clinton (including Vice President Biden; Governors O'Malley, Cuomo, and Hickenlooper; Senator Klobuchar and others) and to the Republican nominee, should Clinton compete in the general election," wrote Priebus.

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This post has been updated for clarity.