The Slatest

Why Liberals Are Helping the GOP Put an End to Those Hillary Clinton Film Projects

Hillary Clinton looks out at the audience with Vice President Joe Biden at the end of the Vital Voices Global Awards ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington on April 2, 2013

Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

The Republican National Committee’s effort to pressure NBC and CNN to scrap plans for Hillary Clinton-themed event programming has found some liberal support in the form of Media Matters for America, the progressive watchdog best known for flagging Fox News absurdities for the public and the press.

On Tuesday night, Media Matters founder David Brock sent letters to the two networks to announce his support for the RNC’s effort, arguing that the timing of NBC’s planned miniseries and the CNN documentary raise “too many questions about fairness and conflicts of interest” ahead of the next presidential election.

The letters come one day after RNC chairman Reince Priebus called the recently announced projects “thinly veiled [attempts] at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election,” and threatened an end to primary debate cooperation with the networks if execs don’t quickly scrap their plans.

Of course, this isn’t some type of unholy alliance; Brock and Priebus have pretty much the exact opposite political motivations. The latter is laying the groundwork for anti-MSM and anti-Hillary fundraising efforts for Republican candidates, the same thing the former is hoping to prevent, or at least slow. “How will your network respond to the right-wing noise machine that is already pressuring you to adopt its idealogical lens on Clinton?” writes Brock, who is also the chairman of American Bridge, a super PAC with a stated goal of pushing back against “GOP smears.”

Depending on how the films are promoted and how they turn out, it’s certainly possible if the projects continue as planned they could represent something of a net-gain for Republicans given their ability to fundraise off of the films. That’s one reason Media Matters is weighing in now. But the other, Brock’s letter suggests, is the fear that the films may not be as pro-Hillary as Team Clinton would like. After mentioning CNN’s request that the RNC “reserve judgement” on its documentary until after they’ve seen it, Brock writes: “This suggests that [Republicans] might, in fact, be pleased with it which is reason enough to suspend the project.”

Elsewhere in Slate, my colleague Dave Weigel explains why it may not be such a bad idea for the GOP to actually go through with its threat to boycott NBC and CNN primary debates.

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This post has been updated with additional information and analysis.