Republicans Suspend Relationship with NBC Over "Gotcha" GOP Debate Questions

Republicans Suspend Relationship with NBC Over "Gotcha" GOP Debate Questions Getty

The GOP has suspended its partnership with NBC after claiming the network's moderators at the most recent debate posed unfair "gotcha questions" to Republican presidential candidates.

Chairman Reince Priebus announced on Friday that the RNC would no longer be partnering with NBC in a GOP debate scheduled for February following Wednesday night's debate in Colorado.

In a statement, Priebus mostly blamed the fallout on the moderators of the debate, which was aired by financial news network CNBC.

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"While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates' visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC's moderators engaged in a series of 'gotcha' questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates," Priebus wrote.

CNBC and NBC share the parent company NBCUniversal, but operate independently of one another.

"We understand that NBC does not exercise full editorial control over CNBC’s journalistic approach. However, the network is an arm of your organization, and we need to ensure there is not a repeat performance," Priebus wrote.

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The theme of Wednesday's debate was officially economic and financial issues. However, Priebus and, according to the RNC, several of the cadidates, believe many questions posed by moderators John Harwood, Becky Quick and Carl Quintanilla intended to embarass the candidates instead of sticking to the issues.

For instance, candidate Dr. Ben Carson was questioned pointedly about his relationship with controversial supplement company, Mannatech. 

Carson's exact relationship with Mannatech remains unclear. He claims he simply gave some paid speeches for the company and likes its products, but the Washington Post reports the neurosurgeon was used as something very akin to an endorser by Mannatech.

The RNC took issue with CNBC's handling of the debate as a whole and Preibus claims certain parameters that were set by GOP officials were agreed to "in bad faith" by the network.

"Before the debate, the candidates were promised an opening question on economic or financial matters. That was not the case.

"Candidates were promised that speaking time would be carefully monitored to ensure fairness. That was not the case.  Questions were inaccurate or downright offensive.

"The first question directed to one of our candidates asked if he was running a comic book version of a presidential campaign, hardly in the spirit of how the debate was billed."

Priebus said the RNC still intends to hold its February debate in partnership with conservative news outlet National Review.

NBC responded in a statement:

"This is a disappointing development," NBC News said. "However, along with our debate broadcast partners at Telemundo we will work in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party."

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