The Republican National Committee has authorized nine official G.O.P. primary debates, kicking off with a debate on Fox News this coming August.
POLITICO’s Dylan Byers and Hadas Gold have the full lineup of debates, which run into early 2016, as well as three more proposed debates that may or may not come to fruition.
There are two names conspicuously absent from the list of media partners, however: Univision and MSNBC.
MSNBC is not particularly surprising. Despite the channel’s political focus, it has made no secret of of trying to differentiate itself from Fox News and CNN by focusing on more liberal pundits and policy. The R.N.C., likewise, has made no secret of its distaste for the channel. Even with MSNBC shut out, NBC News will be getting a debate, in partnership with its Spanish-language network Telemundo. MSNBC televised one G.O.P. debate in the last election cycle.
Which brings us to the biggest name absent from the list: Univision.
Univision is by far the most-watched Spanish-language TV network in America, often drawing three times as many viewers as Telemundo for its news programming. Univision’s lead anchor, Jorge Ramos, has been at the helm of the network’s evening and Sunday newscasts for more than 25 years.
As Buzzfeed News’s Adrian Carrasquillo reported earlier this week, the Republican Party has been unsure how to proceed with the network, which has made immigration a focal point of its news coverage.
“It’s highly questionable whether we’re treated fairly on Univision,” R.N.C. chairman Reince Priebus told BuzzFeed. “You can fight all day long with people, not to say that that wouldn’t continue, but at the same time you still have to get your message out.”
Apparently that desire to get the message out won’t extend to participation in any debates on the network. The network was shut out in 2012 as well, though it did hold a series of unsanctioned “Meet the Candidates” events in partnership with Facebook.
The R.N.C. has made no secret of its desire to have more control of the debate process, which lurched into the realm of absurdity during the 2012 campaign with 20 debates ultimately held. Cutting the number of debates in half and having a say in the outlets and moderators is one way to keep things from getting out of hand.
Of course, cutting out outlets that are seen as not being friendly to the G.O.P. sets a precedent, too.