What happens when Mika Brzezinski, Media Matters founder David Brock, and RNC chair Reince Priebus all agree on a political matter?
Well, maybe it’s not quite that dramatic, but after the hailstorm we endured here in the Twin Cities after this happened … I’m keeping my eyes peeled, at least. Priebus demanded that NBC and CNN cancel their plans to air films based on the life of Hillary Clinton as a condition of partnering with the RNC on presidential primary debates for the 2016 cycle. Both broadcasters immediately rejected the ultimatum, but Priebus got immediate support from a most unlikely source, although for different reasons:
In an unexpected bipartisan alliance, the liberal watchdog Media Matters For America is planning to back the Republican National Committee’s campaign to pressure NBC and CNN into canceling their respective Hillary Clinton film projects, POLITICO has learned.
On Tuesday evening, Media Matters founder and longtime Clinton ally David Brock will send letters to the leadership at NBC Entertainment and CNN International expressing support for RNC chairman Reince Priebus and his pledge to pull the two networks’ rights to moderate or sponsor Republican primary debates unless they pull their film projects.
Brock’s motive is different from Priebus’s, of course. In addition to heading MMFA, Brock is the chairman of American Bridge super PAC, which recently launched an effort called “Correct the Record” to protect Clinton and other Democrats from “Republican smears.” In his letters to NBC and CNN, Brock suggests that the “right-wing noise machine” is already pressuring those networks “to adopt its ideological lens on Clinton.”
“Given that this project could coincide with a potential Clinton campaign, the timing raises too many questions about fairness and conflicts of interest ahead of the 2016 election,” Brock writes in letters to both NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt and CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker, which were obtained by POLITICO.
Brock has two concerns, one a little more rational than the other. As Priebus also argued, running hagiographies of Hillary as organizing efforts for the next presidential cycle begin not only puts an eventual Republican nominee at a disadvantage, but also any potential Democratic primary opponents as well. In fact, it may do more damage there by discouraging contributors and organizers from backing other Democrats. The likelihood of Brock’s other concern becoming reality — that NBC and CNN will “adopt [the] ideological lens” of the GOP — is so unlikely as to merit nothing more than a shrug or a laugh.
Mika Brzezinski cut closer to the heart of the matter in her comments yesterday, both on and off air. On air, Brzezinski called it “kind of a conflict,” but Joe Scarborough told the audience that she put it more colorfully — and accurately — before the segment aired:
“You said off the air, Mika, it was as if they were trying to climb up something of the entire Clinton organization.”
That’s what it looks like from most perspectives, and why Priebus is correct to call out those decisions. Let’s hope it leads to much broader reform on debates, which Priebus promises.