Barack Obama has joined John Edwards in boycotting the debates hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus and to be broadcast by Fox. Last week Edwards announced he would not appear, stating “there’s just no reason for Democrats to give Fox a platform to advance the right-wing agenda while pretending they’re objective.” While the debates might have gone on without Edwards, having a second major candidate boycott them greatly reduces the chances that they will be taken seriously.
Fox has used previous occassions such as debates to distort and attack the messages presented by Democrats while pretending to provide news coverage. Fox is not a news outlet and should not be treated like one. They have the right to express their opinions, however distasteful and vile their opinions might be, but they should not be allowed to pretend to be a news organization while actively promoting the agenda of the authoritarian right.
Boycotting these debates is a logical first step. I wonder if more can be done. Perhaps their access should also be considered. Fox should be considered an opinion source like Air America, The New Republic, and The National Review. To the degree that such opinion sources are allowed access to news makers and events, Fox should be treated the same. If only news outlets are allowed, this should exclude Fox. Fox should not be treated like a news network unless they decide to respect basic principles of journalism in presenting news rather than Pravda-like propaganda.
Update: Ben Smith reports that Hillary Clinton is also not participating. (I think this one from him is pretty clear cut–it’s not like he’s saying that Hillary is suspending her debating for that evening.)
Update II: While I’m rarely surprised by the irrational comments from the conservative blogs, I found a new example of bizarre logic in tracking back the links to this post. Confederate Yankee first incorrectly claims that the argument against Democratic candidates appearing on Fox is that this would legitimize them. They go from there to an even more absurd argument that somehow Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria legitimizes any crimes committed by the Syrian government. They even repeat the common, but totally erroneous, claim that her actions were illegal, while having no problems with Republicans who also visited Syria. Their underlying logic is actually very simple. The authoritarian right neither respects democracy or the fact that there is more than one branch of government, and any perceived challenge to the absolute authority of their leader should be a crime.
Fox is not a legitimate news source due to their failure to respect basic journalistic principles of fairness and objectivity. Their legitimacy is not determined by who appears on the network. Visiting countries such as Syria is part of Pelosi’s job, and this also has nothing to do with legitimacy. This is a normal function of Congress under normal circumstances. This becomes even more important when faced with a President who is incapable of performing the duties of his office in a competent manner.