Republican Party suspends partnership with NBC News over CNBC debate

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The Republican Party is putting its relationship with NBC News on hold. In a Friday letter to Andy Lack, RNC chairman Reince Priebus said that the GOP will not be participating in the planned Feb. 26 debate, citing the questions at the recent CNBC-hosted debate as the reason.

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Republican Party suspends partnership with NBC News over CNBC debate
BOULDER, CO - OCTOBER 28: Presidential candidates Ohio Governor John Kasich (L-R), Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz (R-TX), New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) pose for a photo at the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate at University of Colorado's Coors Events Center October 28, 2015 in Boulder, Colorado. Fourteen Republican presidential candidates are participating in the third set of Republican presidential debates. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Ben Carson watches as Donald Trump takes the stage during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Ben Carson, right, watches as Donald Trump speaks during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
BOULDER, CO - OCTOBER 28: Presidential candidates Ohio Governor John Kasich (L-R), Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz (R-TX), New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) take the stage at the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate at University of Colorados Coors Events Center October 28, 2015 in Boulder, Colorado. Fourteen Republican presidential candidates are participating in the third set of Republican presidential debates. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, businesswoman Carly Fiorina speaks during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Jeb Bush, center, stands with Mike Huckabee, left, and Marco Rubio during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Chris Christie, left, and Donald Trump talk during a break in the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Ben Carson, right, watches as Donald Trump speaks during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
John Kasich, left, and Donald Trump, second from right, argue across fellow candidates during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Carly Fiorina, center, speaks as Ben Carson, left, and Ted Cruz look on during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Donald Trump smiles during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Rand Paul, right, speaks as Chris Christie looks on during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Ted Cruz, left, Chris Christie, center, and Rand Paul take the stage during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Republican presidential candidates, from left, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and Rand Paul appear during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Mike Huckabee speaks during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Marco Rubio, right, and Jeb Bush, argue a point during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
John Kasich makes a point during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
BOULDER, CO - OCTOBER 28: Presidential candidates Ohio Governor John Kasich (L-R), Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz (R-TX), New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) take part in the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate at University of Colorados Coors Events Center October 28, 2015 in Boulder, Colorado. Fourteen Republican presidential candidates are participating in the third set of Republican presidential debates. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Marco Rubio speaks during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Chris Christie makes a point during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
2016 presidential candidates Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, left, Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc., center, and Ben Carson, former neurosurgeon, stand on stage at the start of the Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015. Three Republican senators running for president have come out swinging against a bipartisan budget deal as an emblem of everything that's wrong in Washington, making it a likely pinata in the party's third debate Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Ted Cruz, left, Chris Christie, center, and Rand Paul take the stage during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
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Read the full letter below:

Dear Mr. Lack,

I write to inform you that pending further discussion between the Republican National Committee (RNC) and our presidential campaigns, we are suspending the partnership with NBC News for the Republican primary debate at the University of Houston on February 26, 2016. 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. We simply cannot continue with NBC without full consultation with our campaigns.

The CNBC network is one of your media properties, and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith. 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.

CNBC billed the debate as one that would focus on "the key issues that matter to all voters—job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy." That was not the case. 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.

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. What took place Wednesday night was not an attempt to give the American people a greater understanding of our candidates' policies and ideas.

I have tremendous respect for the First Amendment and freedom of the press. However, I also expect the media to host a substantive debate on consequential issues important to Americans. CNBC did not.

While we are suspending our partnership with NBC News and its properties, we still fully intend to have a debate on that day, and will ensure that National Review remains part of it.

I will be working with our candidates to discuss how to move forward and will be in touch.

Sincerely,

Reince Priebus
Chairman, Republican National Committee

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