Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 12, 2016

Hillary TV Is No Threat to GOP in Run-Up to 2016

The Republican National Committee’s ouster of CNN and NBC as 2016 GOP debate hosts over their Hillary Rodham Clinton programs is decidedly premature. It’s also small-minded.

If the CNN documentary and the NBC miniseries beatify Clinton or tacitly endorse her presidential campaign, it might be fitting for RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to say the networks disqualified themselves from moderating GOP debates.

If that’s the tenor of the programs, they’ll also bomb with the public — though Priebus’ fussing about them in advance has already given them a publicity boost.

On the other hand, if the programs are serious examinations of Clinton’s career, they can’t possibly be hagiographic. She has a decidedly mixed record. Her management of health care reform in 1993 was a disaster. She was a hard-working senator, but she ran a terrible 2008 presidential campaign. And she can’t point to a single policy success as secretary of State. And, to put it mildly, her personal life has been complicated, the stuff of soap opera.

A penetrating documentary or miniseries might well do her presidential campaign more harm than good. That would make Priebus look silly.

My hunch is that he’s trumped up a spat with CNN and NBC — read, “the liberal media” — to bolster his personal standing in the party and win backing for reforms that include aggressive minority outreach, expensive technological upgrades, fewer presidential primary debates and a shortened primary season.

All good steps, but the party’s true problems lie more in substance and image than mechanics. Trying to muscle TV networks to cancel shows of unknown content makes the party look small.

  • Paul Powell

    The party is small. Small-minded on social issues, racial issues, religious issues, climate issues, you name it. I was a registered Republican years ago and I will never return.

  • Layla

    Mr. Kondracke, I respectfully disagee with you. There has not been a truthful picture painted of Hillary Clinton since she left the White House, warts and all. I think Americans have had it up to here with the rewrite of history. Most Americans could care less what your opinion is on this and Republicans applaud this decision. No political party should be pushing social, racial, religious, climate issues. These are issues which should be left up to the States. Stick to the limits which the Founders intended in the Constitution and you may find yourselves no longer a shrinking party.

  • JosephDygas

    ” It’s also small-minded.” Nonsense I say. I have watched presidential debates for decades and they are always MC’ by liberal journalists if not outright democrats. Their bias in the questions they ask is very obvious. There is nothing remotely approaching fair mindedness or being even handed between the candidates. It is longoverdue for someone of serious caliber like Rush Limbaugh to run a debate or two.

    • Jesse4

      ” . . . someone of serious caliber like Rush Limbaugh. . .”
      Funniest thing I’ve seen on the internet so far today.

      • JosephDygas

        with age, comes wisdom… ;-)

  • David S. McQueen

    To consider a woman with as much baggage as Mrs. Slick Willie for POTUS is laughable. On the other hand, the American (sic) people did vote for Obama twice. Who’s next in 2024, Charlie Manson?

    • Rob

      And you right-wing, fascist, wing-nut tea baggers wonder why everyone hates you. What an arrogant horse’s rear end you are. (There the moderator may be happy with that one).

      • ID-2

        Were close minded and you are the one describing Tea Partiers in through a derogatory, sexual act, Now who is arrogant?

    • ID-2

      Joe Biden. Who is as old as Charlie Manson.

  • ID-2

    You cannot have a substance and image problem if you do not have the ability to get your reach message to certain voter groups Kondracke. Try again,

  • Freedom First

    Those possessed with utopian delusions attack & undermine the key institutions, such as private property, upon which civilization depends.

  • Imre Beke

    Mr. Kondracke, more often than not, I agree with your assessment of national politics. In this instance – however – I find myself unable to do so. The issue here is not how fair these biopics will be. It is whether media outlets which have the news as major portions of their makeup should be giving any sort of publicity to potential Presidential candidates, whether that publicity is good or bad.

    In an era when the journalistic media is viewed as biased – generally with good reason – media outlets should be taking to heart the old admonishment that Caesar’s wife must be above reproach. Neither the public nor the players in the political game are well served when the media is no longer trusted by the voters. Instead of engaging in acts which are easily foreseen to be likely to strengthen mistrust of the press, the media should be making a deliberate, concerted effort to eliminate even the slightest shade of bias. They should be working to win back the trust of the people.

    Yes, productions like the Hillary Clinton features may bring short term profits, but they will inevitably hurt the reputations of these outlets, which will both erode the view the people have of the media and – in the long run – decrease their profits, perhaps significantly.

    Under such circumstances, the GOP is quite correct in itself adhering to the Caesar’s wife rule. The debates could potentially be tarnished in the eyes of the voters were they to be run under the auspices of organizations which could be viewed as possibly biased in favor of Mrs. Clinton. Whether or not the GOP’s stance could be viewed as punishing NBC and CNN is rather immaterial. That is a collateral effect. What matters is that all potential appearance of bias be excised from the debate process. We had more than enough suspicion of such bias by moderators in 2012. We do not need similar issues cropping up in 2016, marring what is already likely to be a less than civilized election process.

  • lem

    The basic point of this column is absolutely correct – sight unseen, what motivation could the RNC have to retaliate so strongly against these upcoming programs other than to add momentum to their favorite trope of the media’s liberal bias?

    I do take issue with the column’s assessment of Hillary’s career so far as “decidedly mixed” (which we are apparently meant to read as “mostly useless”). As SecState, for example, although circumstances did not offer her much in the way of diplomatic triumphs, she certainly did have some significant successes. They tended to be internal to State and thus perhaps harder to point to, but nonetheless history will see her tenure as a turning point on key management issues such as LGBT rights.

  • John Ramos

    Since force is the only way to prevent coercion, free countries award the coercion monopoly to the government and then work to restrain it.

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