The RNC's Threat to Boycott Big Media Debates Is Brilliant. Really!

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 6 2013 9:39 AM

The RNC's Threat to Boycott Big Media Debates Is Brilliant. Really!

139563032
We might not see a Republican debate on CNN next time around.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In my latest piece, I praise—and not even in a Slatepitchy way—the RNC's threat to boycott 2016 primary debates hosted by NBC and CNN unless those networks put the kibosh on their Hillary Clinton movies. (NBC's entertainment division is working on a docudrama, while CNN—far less enragingly, given the networks' Benghazi scoopage—is working on a documentary.) The Clinton hook is a little cute, and the RNC is already using it to raise money and build email lists, but I agree with the general idea that ideological candidate debates, put on by right-wingers, might be more interesting than the "MSM" debates. Ten questions from Fred Kagan or Ed Meese are more likely to burrow into the GOP's philosophy than 10 questions from Handsome Cable Host of the Week. Indeed, though it was seen as a snoozer at the time, the think tank-sponsored debate of 2011 was the only one that got candidates on the record on drones and Patriot Act renewal.

Let's not be Pollyannas, though. This is a popular campaign among Republicans not because they want harder questions but because they mistrust the press and think they let candidates be exploited for ratings in 2011–2012. "Why in the world would this be a bad idea?" one former candidate spokesman told me. "Chris Matthews and Piers Morgan should never moderate a GOP debate. It's impossible for them to be objective. It is like a child with their parents' credit card in a toy store. They just can't help themselves."

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.