The Republican National Committee’s threat to boycott CNN and NBC if they don’t scrap planned Hillary Clinton film projects got unexpected backing on Monday evening from David Brock, founder of the liberal watchdog Media Matters For America. Though some have suggested that this represents some sort of unholy alliance, rest assured that mutual hatred is what’s really at the heart of this rare alignment. Yesterday Reince Priebus essentially accused NBC of bias, noting that its executives have donated to Clinton’s campaigns, and the network is “already damaged by the partnership of MSNBC.” In his letters to the networks, Brock suggests he’s more concerned about the appearance of bias and the obnoxious response from the “right-wing noise machine.”
In nearly identical missives, Brock asks three questions about how the networks will protect their journalistic integrity. He writes:
Will you allow NBC News’ name to be tarnished by NBC Entertainment’s pursuit of ratings?
Is you network also prepared to respond to criticism that it is not providing equal time to all political candidates?
How will your network respond to the right-wing noise machine that is already pressuring you to adopt its ideological lens on Clinton?
Aside from the networks’ reputations, Brock expresses concern that NBC’s miniseries and CNN’s documentary might portray Clinton in an unflattering light, if only to avoid the accusation that they’re campaign infomercials. As Politico notes, Brock is a longtime Clinton ally, and head the American Bridge super-PAC, which “recently launched an effort called ‘Correct the Record’ to protect Clinton and other Democrats from ‘Republican smears.’” Brock warns NBC Entertainment that “a fictionalized caricature of Clinton may make for more dramatic appeal, but diversions from reality are likely to blow back on NBC News.” He also worries that the networks might be pressured into mentioning some “phony scandals” from the Clinton administration, and weirdly finds fault in CNN’s request that the RNC “reserve judgment” on its documentary. “This suggests that [Republicans] might, in fact, be pleased with it which is reason enough to suspend the project,” he writes.
Unlike Priebus, Brock doesn’t issue any threats. He merely calls on the networks to reconsider their projects, “Unless you are prepared to answer these concerns, those raised by Mr. Priebus, and others that will likely arise in the future.” So if NBC says it’s willing to make a fictionalized miniseries for any candidate who wants one, he might be fine with it.