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GOP Threatens to Pull Debates From CNN and NBC Over Hillary Clinton Specials

Republicans upset over networks' plans to "influence Americans' political decisions"

The GOP is objecting to NBC and CNN’s plans to air Hillary Clinton specials, threatening to pull primary debates from the networks if the programming isn’t spiked before Republicans' Aug. 14 meeting.

Both networks responded immediately Monday — and neither indicated it was giving in.

Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus (above, center) sent two separate letters Monday — one to NBC entertainment chair Robert Greenblatt (right), the other to CNN president Jeff Zucker (left) — blasting their respective networks' "disturbing and disappointing" attempt to "put a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election." 

Also read: Jeff Zucker Junks His Network's Previous Mandate: 'CNN is Greater Than Politics'

Though the letters are somewhat customized for the respective networks — the one to Greenblatt flags Comcast EVP David Cohen's $1.4 million in political contributions to Obama, for instance — most of the language is shared.

That includes this explicit threat:

"If you have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the RNC's Summer Meeting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with you in primary debates nor sanction primary debates which you sponsor."

NBC responded by saying its news and entertainment divisions are separate — making its Clinton miniseries kosher. "NBC News is completely independent of NBC Entertainment, and has no involvement in this project," the network said in a statement to TheWrap

NBC announced the miniseries — starring Diane Lane — at TCA last month. Greenblatt said at the time that no air date had been set, but he expected it to air before Clinton officially announces her candidacy.

Also read: TCA: NBC Announces Hillary Clinton Miniseries 

Two days later, CNN announced that it's set to produce a feature-length documentary about the presumptive Democratic presidential front-runner for 2016 that will debut in theaters and on the news channel in 2014. CNN Films commissioned its Clinton documentary earlier this year and told TheWrap that it's expected to premiere in 2014 with a theatrical run prior to airing on CNN. 

Also read: Hillary Clinton Movie Mania: Now CNN Films Is Doing a Documentary

"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," CNN said in its statement. "Should they decide not to participate in debates on CNN, we would find it curious, as limiting their debate participation seems to be the ultimate disservice to voters."

Here's the RNC's release … 

WASHINGTON – Today Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus sent a letter to Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, and Jeff Zucker, President of CNN Worldwide, calling on their networks to cancel their attempts to influence Americans’ political decisions. Both networks are airing programs promoting former Secretary Hillary Clinton ahead of her likely candidacy for president in 2016. NBC has announced plans to air a miniseries, while CNN is producing a documentary. If the productions are not canceled prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meeting, Chairman Priebus will seek a binding vote of the RNC to prevent the committee from partnering with these networks in 2016 primary debates or sanctioning debates they sponsor.

“It’s appalling to know executives at major networks like NBC and CNN who have donated to Democrats and Hillary Clinton have taken it upon themselves to be Hillary Clinton’s campaign operatives,” said Chairman Priebus. “Their actions to promote Secretary Clinton are disturbing and disappointing. I hope Americans will question the credibility of these networks and that NBC and CNN will reconsider their partisan actions and cancel these political ads masked as unbiased entertainment. If they have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meeting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote stating that the RNC will neither partner with these networks in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates they sponsor.”