The Republican Party has a message for CNN and NBC: Stop with the Hillary Rodham Clinton shows, or no debates for you.
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, on Monday sent blistering letters to the network bosses, calling their decision to air Clinton projects just as the 2016 White House campaign is heating up "disturbing and disappointing." And if the shows go forward, the GOP will cut CNN and NBC out of Republican debates during primary season leading up to the election.
NBC last week announced a miniseries called "Hillary" with Diane Lane playing the former first lady and secretary of state. CNN is planning a documentary about Hillary Clinton's life.
"Out of a sense of fairness and decency and in the interest of the political process and your company's reputation, I call on you to cancel this political ad masquerading as an unbiased production," Priebus wrote NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt. (You can read the letters in their entirety here.)
A NBC spokesman said the network had no comment.
But CNN, which plans to run the Clinton documentary in 2014 following a theatrical run, issued a statement bashing the RNC.
"This documentary will be a non-fiction look at the life of a former First Lady and Secretary of State," the statement said. "Instead of making premature decisions about a project that is in the very early stages of development and months from completion, we would encourage the members of the Republican National Committee to reserve judgment until they know more.
"Should they decide not to participate in debates on CNN," the statement added, "we would find it curious, as limiting their debate participation seems to be the ultimate disservice to voters."
Both networks have a long history of run-ins with the GOP. Conservatives frequently derided CNN as the "Clinton News Network" during the 1990s, when it was run by Rick Kaplan, a close friend of President Clinton and his wife, both Democratic leaders. Many Republicans have also felt that NBC News has been tainted by longstanding liberal bias and its association with sister network MSNBC, now a bastion of left-wing opinion during prime time.
What do you think of the battle over Hillary Clinton?