RNC suspends NBC News, Telemundo as debate partners

Benjy Sarlin
RNC 'suspends' debate plans with NBC/Telemundo

The Republican National Committee is suspending its participation in a scheduled February debate hosted by NBC News and Telemundo after complaints from GOP presidential campaigns about this week's CNBC debate, RNC chairman Reince Priebus announced on Friday.

"While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates' visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC's moderators engaged in a series of 'gotcha' questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates," Priebus said in a letter to NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andrew Lack.

More from NBC News:
Unhappy with debates, GOP campaigns to meet without RNC
GOP lineup for next debate in California unveiled
Poll: Hillary Clinton hits 50 percent support

Among the complaints Priebus cited: Insufficient focus on the debate's theme of economic and financial issues, uneven screen time for candidates, and "inaccurate or downright offensive" questions. NBC News and CNBC share a parent company and operate independently.

Full coverage of GOP presidential debate
GOP Candidate Mike Huckabee on stage during the GOP Debate at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado on October 28, 2015.
Here's what the Republican candidates are saying at the presidential debate

According to Priebus, the RNC will sanction a candidate debate for the same February 26 date, but as of now will only work with National Review, a conservative outlet that was also set to participate in the NBC/Telemundo debate.

"This is a disappointing development," NBC News said in a statement. "However, along with our debate broadcast partners at Telemundo we will work in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party."