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GOP votes to punish NBC, CNN

Networks to air programs on life of Hillary Clinton

By John McCormick
Bloomberg News

Republican Party leaders unanimously voted to prohibit 2016 presidential primary debate partnerships with NBC and CNN because the networks plan to broadcast programs highlighting Hillary Clinton’s life and career.

“These programming decisions are an attempt to show political favoritism and put a thumb on the scales for the next presidential election,” said a resolution approved Friday at a Republican National Committee meeting in Boston.

Party Chairman Reince Priebus has called the shows free advertising for Clinton, who may become his party’s biggest hurdle to retaking the White House.

“A network that spends millions of dollars to spotlight Hillary Clinton is a network with an obvious bias,” he said to a standing ovation from the RNC members before the vote. “And that’s a network that won’t be hosting a single Republican primary debate.”

CNN Films is planning a feature-length documentary about the former U.S. secretary of state, senator from New York and first lady. NBC Entertainment has a miniseries in the works in which actress Diane Lane, 48, has been cast to play Clinton, 65.

Both networks have said they intend to move ahead with the productions. CNN spokeswoman Jennifer Scoggins said in a statement Friday that the RNC is jumping to conclusions.

“The project is in the very early stages of development, months from completion with most of the reporting and the interviewing still to be done,” she said. “Therefore, speculation about the final program is just that. We encouraged all interested parties to wait until the program premieres before judgments are made about it. Unfortunately, the RNC was not willing to do that.”

The film, which CNN commissioned earlier this year, is expected to premiere in 2014 with a theatrical run before airing on the cable network.

NBC, in a statement last month, said its miniseries would “recount Clinton’s life as a wife, politician and Cabinet member from 1998 to present.” The network didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment Friday.

Not all Republican leaders share Priebus’s concern about the programs.

“These industries can do whatever they want,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said Aug. 13 during a stop in Apalachicola, Fla.

“There’s no surprise that the media is enamored with her or whatever – at least some of those stations are – but I haven’t had a chance to think about whether there should be a boycott,” Rubio said.

The Democratic National Committee mocked the decision.

“While the Republican Party and the RNC continue to have side-show debates, Democrats will continue to fight for a better bargain for middle-class Americans,” DNC spokesman Michael Czin said in a statement Friday.

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