NPR's Cokie Roberts: GOP's Debate Ban of CNN, NBC 'A Little Bit Childish'

On Monday's Morning Edition on NPR, Cokie Roberts did little to hide her feelings about the Republican National Committee's recent decision to exclude NBC and CNN from hosting future debates between would-be GOP presidential candidates. Roberts asserted that "some might think it's a little bit childish."

Roberts also brushed off the impact of the RNC's move, stating that it's "not likely to play much one way or the other" with voters.

Substitute host David Greene raised the ban near the end of a political segment: "The Republican Party is not going to participate in debates on CNN or NBC because those broadcasters are planning to air these shows about Hillary Clinton. That was a threat that the party had made. They carried it out with this resolution. I mean, how is this playing with voters, do you think?"

Roberts led with her dismissive answer about the RNC resolution, and quickly followed with her "childish" label. She continued by making light of the number of Republican presidential debates the last time around: "First of all, it might limit the number of Republican primary debates, which would be a good thing for the party. There were so many last time around that one cartoon said that there was a Republican debate channel."

It should be pointed out that then-candidate Barack Obama and John Edwards weren't seen as childish for boycotting a planned Democratic presidential debate hosted by Fox News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute in early 2007. In fact, Time's Joe Klein praised the two Democrats for shunning the "sordid event".

The transcript of the relevant portion of the Green/Roberts segment from Monday's Morning Edition:

DAVID GREENE: You say they [Republicans] had these resolutions. Well, one of the resolutions passed that got a good bit of attention declared that the Republican Party is not going to participate in debates on – on CNN or NBC because those broadcasters are planning to air these shows about Hillary Clinton. That was a threat that the party had made. They carried it out with this resolution. I mean, how is this playing with voters, do you think?

COKIE ROBERTS: Oh, I think it's not likely to play much one way or the other. Some might think it's a little bit childish, but it works for the people at the meeting. First of all, it might limit the number of Republican primary debates, which would be a good thing for the party. (Greene laughs) There were so many last time around-


GREENE: A lot-

ROBERTS: That one cartoon said that there was a Republican debate channel. (Greene laughs) But it's also true that – look, it gets everybody at the meeting revved up – we'll show 'em – and they needed a little revving up. There's been all of this navel-gazing, self-criticism in the Republican Party – autopsies written. And that's useful, but it's somewhat dispiriting. So, to have a resolution that they could all get behind sent them home happy.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center