by Max Brantley
I've written before about Republican animosity toward free speech that is not their own.
The Republican National Committee has threatened not to cooperate with NBC and CNN in 2016 debates if the networks don't drop planned productions about Hillary Clinton — a miniseries on NBC starring Diane Lane and a film on CNN. Talking Points Memo reports.
Got that? If these networks run shows on Hillary before the election cycle, Republicans will cut the networks out of the 2016 debates.
Blackmail, extortion. Call it what you will. Republican are nothing if not relentless about message. In addition to pumping their own, they do their best to stamp out competing messages, 1st Amendment or no. Legitimate health service funding must be stripped from an agency that engages in medical practices with which Republican legislators disagree. State marketing money should not be spent on media Republicans don't like. A Democratic congresswoman is silenced for criticizing Republican actions against food stamps. A Pennsylvania legislator is prevented from speaking in support of gay marriage. Occupy Little Rock demonstrators are photographed and harassed at a Republican rally in the River Market. George W. Bush protesters are banned to "free speech zones" far away from places the president spoke.
Dictating program content to national TV networks is a new and bigger wrinkle, however. A mini-series on, say, Rick Perry and the Texas 'Miracle' would be less cause for unhappiness, I'd guess. I'm reminded that Republicans didn't complain when Sinclair, the coming new owners of KATV, aired the swift boat attack documentary on John Kerry on all its stations in the heat of campaigning.
UPDATE: It's hardly a surprise that Doyle Webb, the Arkansas Republican Party chair, also supports coercion to suppress TV entertainment programming:
Webb said: “I applaud Reince Priebus’ leadership on this issue. It is clear that CNN and NBC are attempting to sway the opinions of voters by running puff-pieces about Hillary Clinton ahead of her likely 2016 presidential campaign. For that reason, I will vote to prevent the RNC from partnering with these networks on 2016 presidential primary debates unless they reconsider their decision to act as promoters for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. This is just the latest example of why the national news media has lost credibility with the American voter.”