by Ben Nanamaker | August 5, 2013 7:12 pm
Republicans are threatening to boycott 2016 presidential debates hosted by two major networks if they decide to run TV programs dedicated to possible 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus sent letters to NBC (owned by Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA)) and CNN (owned by Time Warner (NYSE:TWX)) that threatened to skip any debates hosted by those networks if they went forward with plans to air programs about Clinton.
CNN is planning to air a documentary about Clinton next year, while NBC is currently working on a miniseries about the former First Lady and Secretary of State that is expected to air in 2015.
Priebus set a deadline of August 14 for the networks to scrap plans for the shows. If they refused, Priebus promised a binding RNC vote that would prevent the party from working with the two networks and sanctioning their debates.
A CNN spokesperson said, “We would encourage the members of the Republican National Committee to reserve judgment until they know more.” They also noted that not participating in CNN’s debates would be “the ultimate disservice to voters.”
An NBC spokesperson said that NBC News, which typically hosts debates, and NBC Entertainment, which was working on the miniseries, are completely separate.
It is unclear whether U.S. election laws, which require equal access to free air time to all legally qualified candidates, would apply to either show. NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt previously stated that he felt the miniseries would run before the campaign heated up, and therefore wouldn’t fall under those rules.
While Clinton hasn’t announced whether or not she will run in 2016, many political observers expect she will, and a Clinton-affiliated super PAC has already raised $1.2 million toward her election.
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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