Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Sunday, April 01, 2007

  Breaking: Fox News will host NH Dems candidates debate

My friend Milo sent me this story from New Hampshire, which was published in today's Keene Sentinel. Of all places to allow Fox News to interfere in a presidential candidates' debate, NH is possibly the worst. Just when you thought Democrats had finally wised up to the game-playing by all these extremists, you discover that there are new depths of stupidity to be plumbed.

State Democratic leaders agreed on Saturday to allow Fox News to host their Sept. 12 presidential candidates' debate at Norway Hill School in Hancock, said the school's director David Carney. Negotiations broke off in February after party activists protested the draft agreement, which would have given Fox exclusive rights to broadcast the debate. Fox later made several key concessions demanded by party leaders. The cable news company agreed to include at least one reporter from National Public Radio among the questioners. A Fox spokesman said Saturday that Cokie Roberts had agreed to participate.


Everybody in NH I'd spoken to last month thought that public outrage had finally killed the deal with Fox. Aside from the obvious absurdity of trusting a biased and notoriously unreliable group like this to control the proceedings, determine the questions asked (or excluded), and report on candidates toward whom they have a record of deep hostility, there were also some truly astounding conditions set down initially by the network. Incredibly enough, these remain in the final agreement worked out by NH Democrats. If anything, in fact, the new conditions are far worse from the perspective of transparency.

Although Fox made a series of concessions to reassure Democrats that their coverage of the debate would be "fair and balanced", it held firm on several points that Fox declared were "non-negotiable". These included the shape of the table that candidates will sit at. Fox technicians insisted that a round table was not feasible. The candidates had wanted to stand at podiums, but Saturday's agreement rejected the idea.

The main sticking point in the negotiations was Fox's insistence that security issues prevented it from opening the debate to the public or broadcasting it. Party leaders eventually accepted these provisions "with reluctance" because, as spokeswoman Kathleen Strand said, "Fox brings so much else to the table, we didn't feel it would be useful to make a federal case out of something like that."

Fox also modified another demand, agreeing to publish a partial transcript of the proceedings "as appropriate". Democrats said the transcript will be partly redacted, but Strand insisted "nothing really important will be left out."

Several prominent state Democrats reacted angrily to the deal's announcement. "This is just crazy," said Doris Haddock, the Democratic senatorial candidate in 2006. "I'm still trying to figure this out. How do you get any credibility by closing a debate to the public?"


I hardly know where to begin. What has the world come to, that we're debating whether a transcript of a debate has to be complete? Could we want any clearer evidence that Fox News cannot be trusted, than the simple fact that they're determined to suppress as much information as possible about what was actually said at the debate?

The reaction from the candidates themselves highlights how far we still have to go in taking back this country from the feckless types we look to for leadership:

"I confess that I'm really pleased with the agreement in New Hampshire" with Fox, said presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. "Any time we can sit down and talk, it's a good thing for the public."

Senator Hillary Clinton echoed that view. "This is not about right or left, this is about what is good for NH voters," said Clinton. "I don't see what objection there can be to working with Fox to get the word out about the great, great things we are all doing." However she stopped short of saying that she'd attend the debate. "There might be some reasons that come up for not attending. We'll just have to see."

Senator Barack Obama, reached in Hollywood, said "I confess I'm delighted that all the problems have finally been worked out. To those who say we need greater transparency, I say 'Wait and see how this debate will work out before you criticize the good folks of NH for trying to change the old model for how things are done.'"

Obama's spokesman said he'll be making a decision soon about whether or not to boycott the debate, as party activists are demanding.


When are people going to learn that you just can't trust these people? It seems that we go over and over this issue, and the political elite in DC never seem to learn.

crossposted from Unbossed

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