Saturday, March 10, 2007

Column 95 - Fox News & the NDP

With the move of the Nevada Presidential Primary up to January of 2008, Nevada has assumed an unaccustomed place in the national spotlight. Unfortunately, to some extent, that spotlight seems to have blinded the Nevada Democratic Party leadership to some things.

We have already had one debate among all the Democratic candidates save Obama in Carson City a couple of weeks ago. Another is scheduled, and for reasons that completely escape me, the state party contracted with Fox News to cover the debate. Now I’m no media expert, but that seems to me about as logical as having Al Jazeera cover a Zionist Organization of America convention.

Sure enough, a great hue and cry arose from various Liberal organizations protesting this choice, most notably from Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News and a former Nixon aide (and the man responsible for bringing Rush Limbaugh to national attention) immediately jumped on this as “outside forces” attempting to affect Nevada politics (an area that Ailes has shown no particular interest in in the past).

This seems to me to be a bit disingenuous on Mr. Ailes’ part. While the debate was to take place in Nevada and was aimed at the Nevada primary, it was nonetheless a debate among presidential candidates and as one of the early primaries, it is arguably of national interest and import, but Fox news, which is also the TV home of Bill O’Reilly and what he (without a trace of irony) calls “the no-spin zone” has repeatedly shown that it is not interested in being “fair and balanced,” but is a mouthpiece for Conservative views.

With the issue starting to be raised, Democratic candidates began to rethink their participation in the debate. Finally Ailes gave them and the Nevada Party the excuse they needed to get out of the mess without looking like they caved in to those big bad liberals at MoveOn. In a speech last week he conflated Obama and Osama in a poor attempt at humor and the debate cancelled Fox’s coverage, which Tom Collins, Nevada Democratic Chair should have had the guts to do a long time ago and the judgment not to have done in the first place.

There are 21 months left until the Presidential Election of 2008, and everyone I know is looking forward to it with dread, not because of the candidates or the issues but because it looks like it will bring one more very long round of mudslinging and dirty campaigning that will make the “swiftboating” of John Kerry look like a Sunday School picnic. Fox and other right-wing outlets are already trotting out unfounded insinuations about Hillary’s “thick ankles” (if that’s a disqualifying attribute, Newt Gingrich should give up now) and her supposed sexual preferences, Obama’s fictional mid-East ties, etc., and it will only get worse unless we, the public let the candidates and the media know we’re sick of it. Not much hope there, I’m afraid, but it’s worth a try. What do you say? Send a letter to your favorite media outlet, whether it’s Fox, Air America, CNN, or the local stations and to your party’s potential candidates and let them know you’d like to see a campaign on the issue and not on nonsense. Hey – it could happen.

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