Two high-profile MSNBC journalists on Thursday criticized their parent network’s planned miniseries on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying the program threatens NBC News’ credibility as an impartial news-gathering organization.
The rebukes by Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd follow a threat by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to refuse to coordinate 2016 GOP presidential debates with NBC and CNN — which is planning a Clinton documentary — if the networks proceed with the programs.
Todd called the NBC miniseries a “total nightmare” for NBC News.
“We’re going to only own the negative. Whether it’s negative because the Clinton people are upset that it’s too tough on them or negative because the Republicans think it’s this glorification of her,” Todd said on MSNBC's “Morning Joe” program.
“No matter what, only we are going to own it. People are going to see the [NBC] peacock, they see NBC, they see NBC News and think, ‘They can’t be that separate.’”
Hours later, Mitchell agreed that the proposed NBC Clinton film was “a really bad idea,” adding that Priebus was “understandably miffed.”
“A lot of news people would say — including the MSNBC news people and Chuck Todd and all the rest of us — a really bad idea given the timing,” she said.
Priebus has attracted an unlikely list of suporters of his threatened boycott of the networks.
“Given that this project could coincide with a potential Clinton presidential campaign, the timing raises too many questions about fairness and conflicts of interest ahead of of the 2016 election,” said David Brock, founder of the liberal website Media Matters, in letters to the heads of NBC and CNN.
“Unless you are prepared to answer these concerns, those raised by Mr. Priebus, and others that will likely arise in the future, I call on you to reconsider this programming.”
And Leo Hindery, a prominent Democratic fundraiser and longtime media executive, told Bloomberg TV the Clinton projects were “inappropriate.”
“I am as much a Democrat as Reince is a Republican. It is simply wrong to do this,” Hindery said. “It shouldn’t happen on either party’s side — my side, your side — as a run-up to ‘16. This is a bad, bad trend.”