Updated at 9:05 a.m.
National Review Publisher Jack Fowler said late Thursday night that the Republican National Committee removed the magazine as a moderator of an upcoming Republican presidential debate in February after National Review published an anti-Trump issue.
“Tonight, a top official with the RNC called me to say that National Review was being disinvited. The reason: Our ‘Against Trump’ editorial and symposium. We expected this was coming. Small price to pay for speaking the truth about The Donald,” Fowler wrote in a blog post on the National Review website.
Fowler told Buzzfeed News that he was not surprised that the RNC disinvited National Review from the debate.
“That said I would argue that the RNC should have waited for someone to complain, if someone was going to,” Fowler wrote in an email to Buzzfeed News. “The presumption is that our moderator / participant would not have asked an intelligent / fair question.”
“But maybe the RNC based the decision on something along the lines of — you guys just crossed a line (for a debate participant). I’d like to see their statement, if / when it comes out,” he continued. “After all, it’s their party and they can deprive [it] if they want to.”
RNC spokesman Sean Spicer told Buzzfeed that National Review was removed from the debate because the moderators “can’t have a predisposition.”
The National Review on Thursday published an entire issue of the magazine aimed at taking down Trump, along with an editorial describing Trump as a “philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.” The edition also included a collection of essays by prominent conservatives making the case against Trump.
The National Review was set to moderate the Feb. 25 debate ahead of the Super Tuesday primaries. The RNC originally chose NBC News to be the main moderator of the debate, but after the RNC’s unhappiness with the debate hosted by CNBC, NBC was replaced with CNN. Telemundo and Salem Communications will also partner with the RNC for the debate.
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple criticized the RNC’s decision to kick National Review out of the debate, noting that the RNC also replaced NBC News with CNN for the debate.
“The greater damage, surely, lands on the RNC itself. Its Houston debate is now an embarrassment of indecision and thought control,” Wemple wrote Friday morning.