Saturday, March 10, 2007

Democrats to FOX News: Drop Dead

It still had a chance. Then Roger Ailes had to open his big fat mouth.

And now, the Democratic Presidential primary candidate debate, slated to be carried by FOX News in August, is officially kaput.

When Nevada Democrats initially announced the deal with FOX News, many Democrats and liberals were shocked. They likened it to a pact with the devil. Liberal websites and blogs worked feverishly to stop this. One of the candidates, John Edwards, bowed out. Another candidate, Bill Richardson, who initially stated his intent to participate, changed his mind. State party leader Tom Collins tried a little damage control, trying to hold the whole thing together by offering to allow the Air America Radio affiliate in Reno to simulcast it. He even offered the radio network a seat on the panel, an offer Air America president Mark Green declined.

But the straw that broke the donkey's back and killed the whole shindig was the former GOP operative, chairman of FOX, and head of the 'news' channel, Roger Ailes, who obviously has not learned the concept of tact in his long career. At an awards banquet on Thursday, he told a crude joke about Senator Barack Obama, a prominent candidate. In a series of jokes about various public officials as part of a speech, Mr. Ailes said, "It is true that Barack Obama is on the move. I don’t know if it’s true that President Bush called Musharraf and said, 'Why can’t we catch this guy?'" Note to Roger Ailes: Now we know why FOX News' new comedy show isn't funny.

Following Roger the Hut's ill-fated attempt at stand-up comedy, the Democrats were livid. Collins and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who represents the state, wrote a letter to FOX executive producer Marty Ryan, claiming that Ailes' comments crossed the line. And they gave FOX the boot:

"We cannot, as good Democrats, put our party in a position to defend such comments,” the letter said. “In light of his comments, we have concluded that it is not possible to hold a presidential debate that will focus on our candidates and are therefore canceling our August debate. We take no pleasure in this, but it is the only course of action."

Doing the oh-so-typical FOX spin dance that has become almost a network trademark, David Rhodes, vice president for Fox News, said in a statement: “News organizations will want to think twice before getting involved in the Nevada Democratic Caucus, which appears to be controlled by radical fringe out-of-state interest groups, not the Nevada Democratic Party. In the past, has said they ‘own’ the Democratic Party. While most Democrats don’t agree with that, it’s clearly the case in Nevada.”

Edwards' campaign subsequently spelled out the Democrats' response effectively. In an email sent to supporters, Deputy Campaign Manager Jonathan Prince Fox countered Rhodes' spin by stating that those so-called "radical fringe" groups are grassroots Democrats who "objected to Fox's long history of spreading Republican propaganda at the expense of Democratic leaders." He also took issue at the network lashing out at Edwards for backing out and for giving face time to the likes of Edwards nemesis Ann Coulter.

"Enough is enough," the email continued. "It's time to send a clear message to Fox News and their allies that their right-wing talking points and temper tantrums won't go unchallenged anymore - when it comes to what Democrats should do in the Democratic primary, we'll decide - no matter what they report."

"Now it's time for Democrats to stand together and send a clear message to Roger Ailes, Fox News and all the rest of them: bias isn't balance, but turning tables is fair"

"...this campaign is about responsibility and accountability, and we need to send the message to Fox that if they want to be the corporate mouthpiece of the Republican Party more than they want to be an impartial news outlet, they shouldn't expect Democrats to play along."

Democrats growing a backbone? Now this campaign is starting to look interesting.


William said...

I wonder who will step up as a sponsor for the debate. Maybe Mark Green should again offer Air America Radio as a debate sponsor.

As for Fox News, I think that the Democratic Party and its candidates should treat it as a hostile propaganda arm of the GOP.

ltr said...

The debate was canceled altogether. That's how they got rid of FOX.

No worry, though. There will be many, many debates. Reportedly, there will be even a couple more in Nevada. As to who will sponsor them (if anyone) who knows?

The unsponsored ones will likely end up on C-SPAN anyway.

Emacee said...

For anyone with a short memory, go to your library and get Joe McGinnis' "Selling of the President 1968" and see how Ailes not only brought back Tricky Dick from the dead but invented today's packaged faux media campaign.
He's also responsible for Mike Douglas. Yuck.
Speaking of faux campaign events, one less faux "debate" is a good start. The FTC should bring truth in advertising charges to both parties for calling these over-staged and over-rehearsed joint press conferences "debates" - which they are not.
Too bad nobody's got the cajones to do a real debate like on The West Wing - or like Lincoln and Douglas.

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