The Republican National Committee is taking its beef with the mainstream media to the next level and is, at least temporarily, pulling the plug on its relationship with NBC.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus wrote a letter to NBC News chairman Andrew Lack to tell him the committee and its White House hopefuls are suspending their agreement with NBC News to carry the GOP debate scheduled for February 26 at the University of Houston.
"The RNC’s sole role in the primary debate process is to ensure that our candidates are given a full and fair opportunity to lay out their vision for America’s future. We simply cannot continue with NBC without full consultation with our campaigns," he wrote.
It was clear the party’s chairman wasn’t thrilled on Tuesday night after the debate wrapped, either.
CNBC should be ashamed of how this debate was handled. #GOPDebate— Reince Priebus (@Reince) October 29, 2015
I will fight to ensure future debates allow for a more robust exchange. #GOPDebate— Reince Priebus (@Reince) October 29, 2015
In spite of the moderators, I'm proud of our team for standing up against the improper and unprofessional display put on by CNBC.— Reince Priebus (@Reince) October 29, 2015
CNBC told Mashable on Tuesday that "anybody who wants to be president of the United States should be able to answer tough questions."
NBC News called the matter "disappointing" in a statement that was also tweeted by @NBCNewsPR on Friday and pledged to "work in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party."
The RNC, viewers, and candidates alike were in an uproar over CNBC’s handling of Wednesday’s event, which some perceived as disorganized at best. Some GOP faithful believed it to be a thinly veiled partisan attack; in his letter, Priebus said "questions were inaccurate or downright offensive," and accused the moderators of asking "gotcha" questions.
Priebus promised the late February debate will go on, but potentially without NBC and with National Review as the main media partner instead.
Although the RNC has confronted NBC about the debate, candidates have made their displeasure known with the organization. Politico reported on Thursday that lead campaign staffers are planning to figure out their own course of action for taking some debate-organizing clout away from the RNC at a meeting scheduled for Sunday night.