The Republican National Committee held a vote on whether or not to make good on RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’ threat to not hold any Republican 2016 presidential primary debates on NBC and CNN if the networks went forward with a plan to air a miniseries on Hillary Clinton. Priebus stuck to his guns, even after it came out that Fox was in talks with NBC to produce the series. There is no chance that Republicans would boycott Fox as well, so Priebus justified his selective boycott by saying that NBC and CNN are airing the miniseries, and that’s what counts, not who makes the series.
The vote to boycott CNN and NBC is both absurd and completely expected. Every major network will run coverage on every major presidential candidate between now and the election. Despite relentless cries of a biased liberal media, the mainstream media mostly just reports on the news, and tries not to ruffle too many feathers by, say, challenging climate change deniers. Furthermore, the boycott rests on the notion that the Hillary Clinton series will be blatant propaganda, which is a bold claim about something that has not been made yet.
But to the problem with the Republican party that I alluded to in the headline. Ask Republican leaders a binary question and they will see two options: the more conservative choice and the choice that will get them run out of their job. We saw reports today that Republicans in Alabama are trying to oust a 23 year-old conservative from a steering committee because she is for gay rights. A Congressional Republican with a near-perfect conservative voting record was primaried out of his seat for believing in man-made climate change. There is a constant rightward push on the Republican party, because every question becomes a loyalty test.
The best example of this phenomenon was in the primary debates last year when, in a debate on Fox News, every Republican candidate said that they would not accept a package deal of spending cuts and increased revenues in a 10 to 1 ratio (video below). Behind closed doors, any Republican would accept that deal (in a fictional world where they could get that deal), but out in public, they can’t say that they would accept any increase in revenues, no matter what kind of GOP wishlist came with it.
The Fox News-talk radio universe constantly reassures itself that it is the only rational voice in America, while real conservative ideas, however valuable, are often impossible to distinguish in the noise. I’m a liberal, but I do believe that conservatives have good, even needed ideas for America. I don’t think the current environment is one where those ideas have much of a chance of becoming stated policy, let alone law.