Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, has been fuming CNBC’s handling of Wednesday’s Republican debate. Now? He’s telling NBC, “You’re fired!” from the network’s next scheduled debate on February 26, 2016.
In a strongly-worded letter, Priebus skewered NBC for CNBC’s performance.
He explained that NBC was going to be suspended from hosting any more Republican debates: “The CNBC network is one of your media properties, and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith… We need to ensure there is not a repeat performance.”
Priebus added: “Before the debate, the candidates were promised an opening question on economic or financial matters. That was not the case… “
And he took umbrage that CNBC asked questions that “were inaccurate or downright offensive…” and “hardly in the spirit of how the debate was billed.”
CNBC was roundly criticized—both during and after the debate—by key Republicans for similar bias.
When CNBC pundit John Harwood came out of the gate with his first question, asking Donald Trump if he was running a “comic book version of a campaign,” it was clear that it was going to be a long night.
The moderators were even criticized on stage, by the candidates. Sen. Ted Cruz eviscerated CNBC for asking “gotcha questions,” like the one asked to Trump, along with other biased questions asked to Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, and John Kasich. And Gov. Chris Christie lost his patience too, when the media asked a long-winded question about fantasy football, rather than other issues that actually matter to the American public.
Priebus, for his part, has been venting about CNBC for days.
“I just can’t tell you how pissed off I am,” he said, in an interview. “It was insanity, just sitting there seething through this thing… These are people who put on a pretty decent show in the morning on CNBC. They did a debate four years ago that was a decent debate. Obviously, we had assurances that it was going to be straight up finance, which is what they do every day. And what was delivered was just nothing but a crap sandwich.”
The RNC is meeting with representatives from each major campaign to discuss how to better structure debates in the future—but it’s clear that NBC won’t be there any time soon.