WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Republican National Committee says it’s suspending its partnership with NBC News and its properties and won’t allow the network to co-host a presidential primary debate scheduled for February.
The letter from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to NBC News chief Andrew Lack comes after this week’s heavily criticized debate on CNBC.
Priebus says the CNBC debate did not focus on economic issues as promised, and that candidates were asked questions that “were inaccurate or downright offensive.”
“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,” Priebus says. “What took place Wednesday night was not an attempt to give the American people a greater understanding of our candidates’ policies and ideas.”
The RNC tells NBC it will still hold a debate as scheduled on Feb. 26 with its other planned media partner, National Review.
Even before the decision to break with NBC, several of the GOP campaigns had planned to meet to discuss complaints about how the party’s debates are being run.
The candidates complained during their face-off Wednesday evening that the CNBC moderators’ questions were hostile and based on inaccurate premises.
“The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said early on.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took issue with one moderator’s interruption. “Do you want me to answer or do you want to answer?” he said. “Because, I’ve got to tell you the truth, even in New Jersey what you’re doing is called rude.”
Donald Trump, who had predicted the debate would be “unfair” hours before it started, told CNBC after he walked offstage Wednesday that he felt the Republicans had been treated far differently than the Democrats during their first faceoff earlier this month.
“If you looked at Hillary’s deal a couple of weeks ago, the questions were much softer, much easier, much nicer. It was like a giant lovefest,” he said. “That did not take place over here. This was pretty tough.”
After the debate, NBC spokesman Brian Steel responded with a one-sentence statement: “People who want to be president of the United States should be able to answer tough questions.” CNBC is part of the NBCUniversal group.
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