Following anti-Trump manifesto, RNC boots National Review from its GOP debate partnership

Reince Priebus sanctions the GOP establishment magazine after "22 prominent conservative thinkers" disavow Trump

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published January 22, 2016 2:07PM (EST)

Reince Priebus, Donald Trump  (AP/Susan Walsh/Carolyn Kaster/Photo montage by Salon)
Reince Priebus, Donald Trump (AP/Susan Walsh/Carolyn Kaster/Photo montage by Salon)

The Republican National Committee has now booted both of its media partners for the February 26 Republican presidential debate in Houston, Texas. The reason for the drastic punishment: Daring to offend Donald Trump.

After the editors of the conservative National Review published their "Against Trump Symposium" Thursday night, the party swiftly moved to sanction the magazine, stripping it of it's media partnership for the pre-Super Tuesday debate on CNN. A debate they were to share co-hosting duties with Telemundo and Salem Radio Network.

But then National Review editor Rich Lowry corralled "22 prominent conservative thinkers," including The Weekly Standard's William Kristol, RedState's Erick Erickson and The Blaze's Glenn Beck, for a collection of essays assailing the dominant Republican frontrunner.

"Donald Trump is a menace to American conservatism who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot in behalf of a populism as heedless and crude as the Donald himself,” the cover story out Friday reads.

National Review publisher Jack Fowler wrote shortly after the cover story's release that the publication had been stripped of its hosting duties for the GOP debate with CNN in Houston.

"Tonight, a top official with the RNC called me to say that National Review was being disinvited. The reason: Our 'Against Trump' editorial and symposium. We expected this was coming. Small price to pay for speaking the truth about The Donald," Fowler wrote on National Review Online's The Corner.

RNC spokesperson Sean Spicer confirmed the move to ABC News. While not an endorsement of any other candidate, National Review's open disavowal of Trump's campaign does remove any veil of impartiality as a debate host. Spicer told Buzzfeed that National Review was removed because the moderators "can’t have a predisposition."

Per usual, Trump was quick to counterpunch, not only taking to Twitter to express his disapproval but also mocking the magazine during a speech Thursday night at the Outdoor Channel awards show:

National Review is a dying paper, it’s got -- its circulation is way down. Not very many people read it anymore. I mean, people don’t even think about the National Review, so I guess they want to get a little publicity, but that’s a dying paper

Of course, this isn't the first time the RNC has booted a media partner after Trump's thrown a tantrum. Recall last fall’s mini-uproar following the CNBC debate where Trump openly attacked the debate moderators and mocked their questions in an attempt to milk the right-wing librul media bias shtick? The RNC was forced to cancel the party’s partnership with the NBC after Donald Trump and Ben Carson threatened to boycott all party-sanctioned debates. In fact, NBC's next scheduled debate was to be the February 28 debate in Houston with the National Review. The RNC announced earlier this week that CNN will host the debate instead.

Trump Responds to National Review's Criticism

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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