Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Hillary Clinton is cheering on Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus's efforts to kill a pair of upcoming televised programs about her.

Priebus has told CNN and NBC -- the two networks airing the programs -- they won’t be allowed to participate in the 2016 Republican presidential primary debates if they proceed with the planned documentary and miniseries about the former first lady. Republicans fear these shows will boost the presidential prospects of the former secretary of state and New York senator.

Members of the Clinton camp, however, worry the TV series are more likely to hurt than help their candidate in the likely event she decides to run. They calculate the Republicans are already, in the words of one pundit, "working the refs" -- meaning the networks now would have to bend over backward to avoid turning the programs into flattering portraits. And they note the director of the CNN program is Charles Ferguson, who won an Academy Award for "Inside Job," a scathing documentary on the Wall Street financial crisis. That film cast blame, in part, on key figures in President Bill Clinton's administration for their roles in the events leading up to the crash.

The long slumping CNN, which relies heavily on viewers tuning in during political seasons, might capitulate if it thinks Republicans are serious, both Clinton and Priebus seem to think. However, whether and where the Republican debates occur, invariably depends on the front-runner rather than the party chairman.

(Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)