Following the widely criticized CNBC debate, the Republican National Committee has decided to suspend their debate relationship with NBC News. NBC News had been scheduled to host a Republican debate in February, but now the RNC says they will move forward on the debate without NBC News and Telemundo. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who sent a letter to NBC News Chair Andrew Lack informing him of the decision, said that National Review, a conservative publication, will remain involved.
“While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of “gotcha” questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates. What took place Wednesday night was not an attempt to give the American people a greater understanding of our candidates’ policies and ideas,” Priebus wrote. Following the debate, Priebus criticized CNBC for the debate and an online petition from the RNC calls on members to “denounce CNBC’s handling of the debate.” Priebus also said that the network failed to ensure equal speaking time for the candidates and an opening question based on the economy. CNBC’s debate was billed as focused on the economy.
NBC News said in a statement, “This is a disappointing development. However, along with our debate broadcast partners at Telemundo we will work in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party.”
However, Priebus does make one error in the letter when it comes to the organization of NBC Universal. He wrote, “The CNBC network is one of your media properties, and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith. 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.”
NBC News and CNBC are separate outfits. Both are owned by NBC Universal, but they operate with different leadership and in different buildings. The two do sometimes collaborate though, however they did not on the presidential debate. Lack does not oversee CNBC in his role as Chairman. Lack has jurisdiction over NBC News and MSNBC.