When the Republican National Committee voted Friday not to sponsor debates with NBC and CBS if they went ahead with biopics of former-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the GOP panel framed the decision as an attack on liberal media bias. In reality, the RNC’s move to cut down debates has less to do with preventing embarrassing moments for the party’s eventual nominee, and more to do with discouraging reality-show-caliber candidates from running in the first place.

A toothless resolution
The RNC has no actual power to stop presidential candidates from participating in debates, although it could theoretically sanction a campaign by taking away delegates if a candidate participated in an unauthorized forum. But the RNC did not even go that far Friday, instead only committing not to partner with NBC and CNN, and then only if they went ahead the planned Clinton biopics.

A silly excuse
The RNC resolution claimed that airing the Clinton movies, “will jeopardize the credibility of CNN and NBC as supposedly unbiased news networks and undermine the perceived objectivity of the coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign.” But conservatives already don’t trust NBC’s liberal-leaning stable of reporters or CNN’s Candy Crowley, and the airing of a Clinton bio won’t change that. But it is not like conservatives trust ABC or CBS News, either.

As Hot Air notes, it was ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, a former Clinton administration and Democratic Party operative, who launched the “war on women” with his out-of-left-field question about contraception during a 2012 Republican debate. Nothing in Friday’s resolution stops Stephanopoulos from helping Democrats again in 2016.

The real reason the RNC wants less debates
Speaking of Stephanopoulos, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus hinted at the real motivation behind the RNC’s desire to cut down on the total number of debates, on ABC This Week: “I’m trying to get a hold of a primary process and a debate debacle that, as you know, I’ve called a traveling circus,” Priebus said.

And a traveling circus is exactly what the 2012 Republican presidential primary was. From Herman Cain to Newt Gingrich to Michele Bachmann, the GOP field was chock full of personalities that had no real chance of winning the nomination, or advancing a larger cause, but instead were clearly only there because they wanted to build their own celebrity and the TV cameras at the debate helped them do it.

So, yes, while internal policy debates are healthy for a party, and they can help sharpen the debating skills of the eventual nominee, too many debates can attract the wrong kind of candidate that makes the entire process full of clowns. Ultimately, however, it will be up to the frontrunners of 2016 to control the process by choosing which debates to skip.

From The Washington Examiner
Editorial: Tax reform debate should be open for all to see
Tim Carney: How Lisa Jackson skirted Obama’s good-government pledge
Sean Higgins: AFL-CIO to make major unionization push in Texas
Susan Ferrechio: New restrictions weighed for U.S. aid to Egypt
Tim Mak: RNC chair defends network boycotts in 2016 GOP debates
Ashe Schow: Rand Paul wants the Supreme Court to judge constitutionality of NSA spy programs
Phil Klein: GOP primary debates didn’t damage Romney
Mark Tapscott: 15 big news stories you missed
Conn Carroll: Conservative activists leave amnesty for dead in August

In Other News
The New Jersey Star-Ledger, Obamacare to end health plan used by 100,000 New Jerseyans: The bare-bones health insurance policy that’s been the plan of choice for New Jerseyans who can’t afford something better is set to go away next year, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
The Sacramento Bee, Judge says Calif. high-speed rail violates initiative: A Sacramento County judge dealt a major blow to California’s high-speed rail project Friday, ruling that the agency overseeing the bullet train failed to comply with the financial and environmental promises made to voters when they approved initial funding for the project five years ago.
The Guardian, Guardian journalist’s partner detained at Heathrow airport: The partner of the Guardian journalist who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency was held for almost nine hours on Sunday by UK authorities as he passed through London’s Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro.
Boston Herald, Scott Brown in Iowa tests presidential waters: Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown told the Herald he is looking at a possible 2016 presidential bid today as he hit a well-worn stomping ground for Oval Office hopefuls – the Iowa State Fair.
Politico, Obamacare’s hurdles higher than Medicare’s: President Barack Obama says he’s not worried that all the Obamacare fights will kill the law — because people fought the creation of Medicare and Social Security too, and now they’re more popular than ever.

Lefty Playbook
Glenn Greenwald says detaining his partner was a failed attempt at intimidation.
Andrew Sullivan says David Cameroan is no better than Vladimir Putin.
Think Progress on how testicular cancer convinced a former Republican staffer to leave his party.

Righty Playbook
Ross Douthat on libertarian populists and their critics.
James Pethokoukis says Obama is obsessed with the wrong one percent.
Avik Roy says Obama administration has missed half of Obamacare’s legally imposed implementation deadlines.