The Colorado Republican Party is blaming CNBC for severely limiting the number of seats available at its Oct. 28 presidential debate at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
But CNBC, which you'd think would advocate for maximum transparency and public access, hasn't accepted the blame. Instead, strangely, it's not commenting. What gives?
"We don't actually know how many seats there are going to be yet," said Colorado GOP Chair Steve House, discussing the upcoming presidential debate on KFKA's Stacy Petty show Sept. 23. "The Coors Events Center holds 11,000, but networks are going to narrow that down to a very small number because, for some reason, they think that people might act out, right?"
CU is also blaming CNBC, sort of. In a statement about the limited seating, CU Chancellor Phillip P. DiStefano said: "The debate is being produced and led by CNBC. They determine the audience size, debate format and other aspects of the event. The Republican National Committee is in charge of ticket distribution."
DiStefano said CNBC determines the audience size, but he was mum about the actual factual audience size set by CNBC for the event. It could have 1,000. It could have been 10,000. What was the number that the RNC was working with?
We know the CU's Coors Events Center holds 11,000 people. The RNC is reportedly distributing just 1,000 tickets, with 100 going to CU students. So did CNBC determine the 1,000 number?
A CNBC spokesman declined to comment to me this morning, as it's done before about this matter, making CNBC look like it's covering for the RNC. That's not an appealing role for a journalistic entity.
CNBC's silence allows the RNC to get away with not taking responsibility for the limited seating, especially because House, the local Republican leader, is flat-out blaming CNBC.
Here's an example of what the RNC is saying:
"These debates are designed for a television audience and the millions of people who will tune in," said Fred Brown, an RNC spokesman, according to the Durango Herald. "We look forward to the attention an event of this scale will bring the university."
Any CNBC reporter, or any self-respecting journalist for that matter, would find that spin revolting. But normally, a journalist couldn't do much about it. In this case, however, the information to expose the spin resides within the journalistic outfit itself. That would be CNBC.
I'm hoping CNBC will do journalism a favor and start explaining what's going on here.