CNN host Candy Crowley and MSNBC hosts and analysts on Morning Joe highlighted Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus' hypocrisy over his decision to not bar Fox News from hosting GOP primary debates amid reports that Fox Television Studios may produce a miniseries about Hillary Clinton.
On August 5, Priebus sent letters to the heads of NBC Entertainment and CNN Worldwide, demanding that they cancel their announced programs about Hillary Clinton. This demand has evolved into a threat to boycott their respective news operations by refusing to allow them to host GOP primary debates during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Media Matters has also called on CNN and NBC to cancel their plans, due to concerns that they will cave to conservative pressure to portray Clinton in a negative light. CNN and NBC on-air personalities have expressed their own views about why the Clinton productions would be problematic. But Priebus revealed to Fox News that his real goal is to get favorable debate treatment from moderators for his candidates.
After The New York Times reported that Fox News' sister company Fox Television Studios may end up producing NBC's planned Clinton miniseries, CNN's Crowley asked Priebus on the August 11 edition of State of the Union whether he would extend his boycott to Fox News. Crowley asked: "If we follow your logic, do you think that there then is a connection to Fox News, and would they be subject to the same kind of scrutiny?" Priebus responded by dismissing and minimizing the connection to Fox News, and added: "I am going to boycott the company that puts the miniseries and the documentaries on the air for the American people to view. I am not interested in whether they use the same sound studio or whether they use the same set. I don't know the truth of anything you're talking about."
This statement is at odds with Priebus' letters to CNN and NBC, where he objected to their plans to even produce anything about Clinton, not just air the resulting programming. In his letter to CNN, Priebus expressed his "deep disappointment" that CNN would "produce a film promoting former Secretary Hillary Clinton." His letter to NBC also complained that the network would "produce an extended commercial for Secretary Clinton's nascent campaign." As Crowley noted, following Priebus' logic, Fox News would also be subject to his ire since its sister company may produce the miniseries that NBC plans to air.
On August 12, Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski noted that Fox's reported involvement in the planned Clinton miniseries "undermines" Priebus' objections to CNN and NBC. MSNBC political analyst Harold Ford, Jr. said that Priebus "faces a consistency and hypocrisy challenge" with his threats, and co-host Joe Scarborough said that Priebus is "going to have to find a way out of the corner" he backed himself into.