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

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

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

The Ludicrous Claims You’ll Hear at This Company’s “Egg Freezing Parties”

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM Going Private To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 1 2014 10:49 AM James Meredith, Determined to Enroll at Ole Miss, Declares His Purpose in a 1961 Letter
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 10:44 AM Everyone’s Favorite Bob’s Burgers Character Gets a Remix You Can Dance to
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 10:27 AM 3,000 French Scientists Are Marching to Demand More Research Funding
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.