RNC Comm Director Blasts NBC, CNN: 'Not the Be-All and End-All' of News

MSNBC host Thomas Roberts took a hostile tone with RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer in a Thursday interview on MSNBC Live, suggesting the GOP just wants “to scream into an echo chamber” during the 2016 presidential cycle. Roberts appeared to take issue with the RNC’s campaign against planned Hillary Clinton projects from CNN and NBC, asking if the RNC was “making a huge mistake with this ultimatum.”

Spicer wasn’t going to let Roberts off easy, though. The Republican blasted CNN and NBC, pointing out that the two networks “are not the be-all and end-all of how people get their news.” Spicer suggested the RNC may reach out to Bloomberg, ABC, and Spanish-language networks for 2016 primary debates, simply asserting: “there are other networks.”

The hostility from Roberts should come as no surprise, given the morning host has pushed his liberal platform on the Lean Forward network many a time. Roberts’s interview with Spicer started off on a cordial note, but turned ugly when the host discussed the RNC petition against Hillary projects under consideration – a documentary by CNN films and a miniseries by NBC:

Sean, the website that you mentioned, if you go there the first thing that you see is “Sign the petition” against CNN and NBC right now...you’re gonna be voting on this tomorrow. No one is blinking at CNN or NBC Entertainment. So, are you making a huge mistake with this ultimatum?

Spicer responded with a point that even liberals at MSNBC – like Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell – have suggested they agree with:

The notion that we would allow a Democratic operative to moderate a debate between our candidates is crazy. So, why is it that can’t we stand up as a party for once and say, we should actually start to have networks and moderators that care about who the best candidate is?

Roberts wouldn’t have any of it though, asking if that meant the RNC just wanted to “scream into an echo chamber. The MSNBC host took the petition as a sign that Republican candidates don’t want to face “someone [who] asks hard questions.” Spicer shot back:

I think what this comes down to is saying we’re not going to commit political malpractice and allow people who have a particular agenda – tilting the scales against us – to then get in the middle and decide who the nominees are going to be.

Spicer makes an interesting point, which few at the Lean Forward network have considered throughout RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’s campaign. Just because the GOP may boycott CNN- and NBC-led debates doesn’t mean that all 2016 Republican debates will go through conservative media. Other major networks – ABC, CBS, and PBS included – along with Spanish-language networks like Telemundo or Univision might be fine outlets for a Republican debate, and they aren’t exactly staunchly conservative outfits.

Regardless, Roberts should probably wait to see how the 2016 debate schedule shapes up before accusing the GOP of screaming into an “echo chamber.” Even better, Roberts could take a good, hard look at his own network.

See the full transcript below:


MSNBC
MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts
August 15, 2013
11:35 a.m. Eastern

THOMAS ROBERTS [to RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer]: Sean, the website that you mentioned, if you go there the first thing that you see is “Sign the petition” against CNN and NBC right now. And the RNC has threatened to end its partnership with CNN and NBC in hosting the 2016 GOP primary debates if they don’t cancel plans for the biopics about Hillary Clinton. Now the Wall Street Journal has an opinion piece out today criticizing the plan, saying “God grant Reince Priebus the serenity to accept liberal media bias, the courage to change who moderates presidential debates, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I think people will recognize the serenity prayer there. But, you’re gonna be voting on this tomorrow. No one is blinking at CNN or NBC Entertainment. So, are you making a huge mistake with this ultimatum?

SEAN SPICER:  Not, not at all. Look, no one had a problem when Chris Matthews moderated two Republican debates. And that’s just insane. The notion that we would allow a Democratic operative to moderate a debate between our candidates is crazy. So, why is it that can’t we stand up as a party for once and say, we should actually start to have networks and moderators that care about who the best candidate is? Who are going to represent the questions and concerns of our grass roots when it comes to debates, and not get tagged and pulled around by media companies and moderators that have an agenda of their own.

ROBERTS: But does that mean you just want to scream into an echo chamber? As you’re saying, you’re trying to go around the country and meet with different organizations, different community outreach programs that were decided through the RNC’s autopsy. And now you’re just going to say, we’re going to take our marbles and go home because you think there is implicit bias, because someone asks hard questions?

SPICER: No, Thomas. No, I think there’s a big difference, Thomas. I think what this comes down to is saying we’re not going to commit political malpractice and allow people who have a particular agenda – tilting the scales against us – to then get in the middle and decide who the nominees are going to be. But there are countless networks and opportunities. Conservative talk radio has a tremendous reach. There are other networks. I can just start naming them, I apologize to your network. But Bloomberg, ABC, Univision, Telemundo. You can go down the list. NBC and CNN are not the be-all and end-all of how people get their news. And we can find different ways of – whether that’s C-SPAN, or live streaming. There are ways to get our message out to reach voters that don’t start and end with NBC and CNN.