After decades of submitting to biased questioning from liberal journalists in their presidential debates, the Republican National Committee is now considering allowing conservative media figures like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin to host such affairs.
This move is now being considered in light of the ongoing media campaign that RNC chairman Reince Priebus has been conducting against two films about likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The chairman has called on NBC and CNN, the producers of the two films, to cancel them or risk not being allowed to host debates at all.
The move has pleased many conservatives who have wanted to drop liberal news organizations from moderator roles long before the Clinton films. Such a move would mirror what Democrats have done to Fox News, the only non-liberal television news channel. In 2008, Democratic presidential candidates refused to attend a debate that was co-hosted by FNC.
Washington Secrets columnist Paul Bedard reports on the discussions:
Miffed that their candidates were singled out for personal questions or CNN John King's "This or That," when he asked candidates quirky questions like "Elvis or Johnny Cash," GOP insiders tell Secrets that they are considering other choices, even a heavyweight panel of radio bigs Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin.
They told Secrets that they are eager to bring in questioners who understand Republican policies and beliefs and who have the ability to get candidates to differentiate their positions on core conservative values.
The move comes as several conservatives are pressuring the party to have Limbaugh, Hannity and Levin ask the debate questions. "It makes a lot of sense. We'd get a huge viewership, they'd make a lot of news and maybe have some fun too," said one of the advocates of the radio trio hosting debates.
The idea took on life when RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer was asked about debate hosting during a Sirius XM radio interview last week. "Mark Levin should ask the questions," Spicer said, according to Breitbart news. That way, he said, grassroots conservatives would have a debate questioner who thinks like them.
How seriously the idea is actually being considered is unknown. Also unknown is whether liberal networks would be dropped in favor of different interviewers/debate formats or whether the talk radio hosted debates would be simply an addition.
Clearly something new must be done. Everyone remembers Candy Crowley's disgraceful ruining of the 2012 debate she moderated. But the phenomenon has been going on for a number of years. Even one of the more fair moderators, Jim Leher has recounted several instances of fellow liberal journalists trying to block tough questioning for Democrats.