Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Friday evening explained why he sent a letter to NBC News informing the network that the committee would suspend its partnership with NBC for a debate in February amidst complaints about the CNBC debate.
“We were betrayed, and I think the candidates were betrayed by CNBC,” Priebus told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. “And we need to look out for the candidates in these future debates.”
Priebus would not say what specific he assurances he would need from NBC News in order to move forward. But he said he would take suggestions from the Republican presidential candidates to the network.
“I’m not going to allow us to move forward until we communicate with the candidates,” he said.
Priebus on Friday afternoon sent a scathing letter to NBC informing the network of the suspension. He railed against the CNBC moderators’ performance at the Wednesday debate.
“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,” he wrote.
Steve Duprey, a Republican committeeman in New Hampshire and chair of the RNC’s debate committee, told Politico that the RNC voted unanimously to suspend NBC’s partnership. He said the committee suspended NBC due to unfair time distribution between the candidates and the moderators’ “snarky and condescending” tone.
According to Politico, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s campaign was particularly concerned about the amount of time he was given to speak at the CNBC debate.
“Several campaigns had a concern about time allotments, we approached CNBC on multiple occasions to give us a read out of times as they promised and they refused,” RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement to Politico.