CNN has struck back following the Republican National Committee's threat to pull the 2016 presidential primary debates from the network if it continues with production plans for a Hillary Clinton documentary.
Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus wrote letters to both CNN and NBC, demanding that the networks cancel plans for their planned documentaries on the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state. If they refused, Priebus stated that their partnership with the RNC for the presidential primary debates would be severed.
"If you have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC's summer meeting on Aug. 14, I will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates which you sponsor," Preibus wrote.
Last month it was announced that NBC plans to air a miniseries about Clinton. It will follow her story, beginning in 1998 at the peak of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, reports Talking Points Memo. According to NBC Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt, the miniseries will most likely run before Clinton kicks off her 2016 campaign for president (if she indeed runs). This announcement was followed by a statement from CNN saying they would also be airing a Clinton-focused documentary.
NBC News has already separated itself from its planned miniseries, with the network's Communications Director Erika Masonhall tweeting, "NBC News is completely independent of NBC Entertainment and has no involvement in this project."
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Stmt from @NBCNews re RNC/Clinton: "NBC News is completely independent of NBC Entertainment and has no involvement in this project."
â€” Erika Masonhall (@ErikaMasonhall) August 5, 2013
But in a statement to The Huffington Post, CNN provided a more aggressive reply to the RNC's threat.
"CNN Films, a division of CNN Worldwide, commissioned a documentary about Hillary Clinton earlier this year. It is expected to premiere in 2014 with a theatrical run prior to airing on CNN. This documentary will be a non-fiction look at the life of a former First Lady and Secretary of State. Instead of making premature decisions about a project that is in the very early stages of development and months from completion, we would encourage the members of the Republican National Committee to reserve judgment until they know more. Should they decide not to participate in debates on CNN, we would find it curious, as limiting their debate participation seems to be the ultimate disservice to voters."
In the letters, which were addressed to Greenblatt and CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, Priebus stated that the planned specials would be unfair to Republican and Democratic candidates alike participating in the primaries.
He also called out the networks' executives for being "Hillary Clinton's campaign operatives" due to the past donations of executives and employees at Comcast -- NBC's parent company -- to the campaigns of Clinton and other Democrats.
"David Cohen, Comcast's EVP, raised over $1.4m for President Obama's re-election efforts and hosted a fundraiser for the president. Comcast employees have donated $522,966 to the president and donated $161,640 to Secretary Clinton's previous campaigns," Priebus said.
Fox News faced its own questions regarding objectivity after it was revealed that the Republican Party had accepted donations from the network's parent company, News Corp. Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, reports CNN.
The letters from the RNC have received endorsements from Republican state party chairmen Matt Moore of South Carolina and A.J. Spiker of Iowa. Both are key early states in the presidential campaign and likely sites of many debates.
Read the RNC letter to NBC below: