Obama Joins Edwards in Boycotting Fox Debate, But Can This Be Taken Further?

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.


  1. 1
    daveinboca says:

    This refusal to debate on neutral territory displays the essential cowardice of the second-raters leading the Dem pack. Actually this cowardice is a victory for MoveOn.org which is seeking to radicalize and marginalize the Democrats into a permanent minority. A recent Zogby Poll had voters considering themselves Conservative over Liberal by a margin of 41% to 21%, with 30-odd% self-described independents.

    The Dems shouldn’t delude themselves into thinking that because they control most of the MSM and blogs that they are going to beat a Giuliani or a Fred Thompson in the voting booth.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Fox is hardly “neutral territory.” In the past they have used such debates to distort what was said by Democrats and attack.

    Democrats control the MSM. While nowhere as blatant and one-sided as Fox, CNN, NBC, and ABC all have shown an increasingly conservative bias. (I can’t say anything about CBS. I just can’t bring myself to watch the deteioration in the network of Murrow, Cronkite, and Rather.)

    Nobody controlls the blogs. The greater interest in liberal blogs over conservative blogs represents the greater support of such positoins. Polls which use words like “liberal” and “conservative” are misleading due to the manner in which the conservative media has distorted the meaning of the words. When specific issues are polled liberal positions beat conservative positions. You are also cherry picking the poll which does the most for your argument. Zogby polls such as this are not the most reliable or consistent in their results. Studies such as the recent Pew survery provide a much more accurate picture of current voter beliefs.

  3. 3
    Confederate Yankee says:

    “Bizarre logic?” I thoroughly agree, Ron.

    It is completely obtuse to think that Democrats appearing on Fox would legitimize the network, and yet that is EXACTLY the sentiment shared on several major liberals blogs and by their commenters, and is the bizarre logic espoused by liberal commenters on my blog. Perhaps you should explain that fact to your fellow travelers.

    I simply applied their own tortured logic to Pelosi’s trip to Syria. I’m sorry if you don’t like the irrationality of your own side when it is extrapolated and exposed.

    I thoroughly agree that neither house of Congress should allow its members to travel to dictatorships providing material, safe havens, and financial support to our enemies, whether those members are Democrats or Republicans.

    The fact remains is that Pelosi attempted to meddle in U.S. and Israeli foreign affairs, and completely botched the message begrudgingly given by the Israeli government, even when advised by both the Executive Branch of our government (which I may add, is the only branch empowered by the Constitution to enact and enforce foreign policy, a position consistently supported by the Supreme Court) and the Israeli Prime Minster strongly advised Ms. Pelosi not to attempt the trip, precisely because of the fact she does not have the authority, experience, or knowledge to conduct diplomatic discussions with foreign heads of state.

    She went anyway, and embarrassed herself so badly in miscommunicating her message that the Israeli government had to take the extraordinary and unprecedented step of correcting her in public.

    Your own displayed lack of knowledge over the separation of powers is astounding.

    You make the outrageous and unsupportable claim that, “the authoritarian right neither respects democracy or the fact that there is more than one branch of government.”

    Please look up a little document called the “Constitution” and show me where any branch other than the Executive branch has the authority to conduct foreign policy. While you’re at it, investigate the “separation of powers” doctrine. Clearly, no other branch of government has the legal authority to dictate or meddle in foreign policy.

    Our Constitution recognizes precisely one branch of government to have the authority to act on behalf of the country in foreign affairs, and that is the Executive branch.

    It is decidedly not within the power of the Speaker of the House, nor any other member of Congress, to attempt to negotiate or even provide the appearance of negotiating for our country, or make pronouncements on behalf of allied governments. Pelosi is certainly guilty of the later and failed miserably at it, as the public correction of her by the Israeli Prime Minister’s office shows. Depending on precisely what she said, she also may have violated the former.

    All other members of Congress were clearly on “fact-finding missions” (AKA, junkets) when they visited Syria and other nations in the region. While detestable in my opinion, they did not do anything ethically questionable while there. Pelosi carefully crafted her trip to give the impression she was on some sort of quasi-diplomatic mission, which I must reiterate again, she has no legal or Constitutional right to do.

    You are flatly incorrect when you state that, “visiting countries such as Syria is part of Pelosi’s job.”

    No Speaker of the House in the history of this nation has ever had that duty, privilege, responsibility, or charge.

    The Constitution and the Supreme Court would strongly disagree with your misinterpretation. I’d go so far as to call it a lie based on either ignorance or blatant partisanship.

    She has the right to visit foreign countries as a private citizen, not as an emissary, an ambassador, or in any other official or quasi-official capacity. No Congressman or Senator has ANY “normal function” to visit a foreign nation as anything other than a private citizen, and most are very clear in making the distinction that they are not meeting with foreign governments or private entities in any official capacity.

    It is not a normal function of Congress, and is a violation of the separation of powers, to attempt to act on behalf of the Executive branch, even if you feel that he is “incapable of performing the duties of his office in a competent manner.”

    Pelosi’s trip was a trainwreck, an attempt to exert or at the very minimum imply her own foreign policy, and as such, is an attempt to undermine the power invested in the Presidency by the Founders of this great nation.

    I’m sorry if you obvious partisanship blinds you to the dangerous precedent an out of control Speaker is attempting to make, how this may impact future Administrations. I’m sorry that you are blind to how this can complicate our relations with foreign governments that do not always understand our system of government, and who do not know that Pelosi has no legal authority officially or unofficially act as if she represents the United States in foreign affairs.

    Pelosi has been on the job less than four months and is already laying the groundwork for being the most incompetent and dangerous Speaker of the House in American history.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    As 1) the above is devoid of rational thought, 2) much of it simply twists what was said rather than responding to the actual arguments, and 3) the right wing attacks on Pelosi have been refuted numerous times both here and elsewhere, I can’t see wasting any time responding to the above. If someone doesn’t understand that the role of Congressional oversight of the Executive Branch, I doubt there is anything more I can say to change their delusions of executive dictatorship. To some people, George Bush really is The Decider.

    (Maybe we can say that some good came out of this as the time they spent with that idiotic comment is a few minutes taken away from them blogging. Even in the world of the conservative blogosphere, Confederate Yankee is one of the more uninformed and illogical sites, easily deluded by any Republican talking point. What more can you say about a blog which has this on their masthead: ” Because liberalism is a persistent vegetative state.”)

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    Responding to the last comment led me to glance at the comments above where Fox is referred to as “Neutral Territory.” Besides not being neutral due to the manner in which they were established to promote the conservative viewpoint, Fox viewers are probably more overwhelmingly Republican than any other group. The Hill reported that, “Fox News viewers supported George Bush over John Kerry by 88 percent to 7 percent.” That’s yet another reason why I see little point in going on Fox in the hopes of reaching a new audience. There are most likely far more swing voters watching anything else other than Fox.

  6. 6
    Confederate Yankee says:

    What an exceptionally shallow response, Ron.

    You refuse to engage on the facts, and instead, engage in an ad hominem attack only a half-grade level higher than calling me a “stinky poo-poo head.” Debate me with facts, not unsupported opinions and name-calling.

    If I am so inferior as you imply, I should be no challenge at all. Don’t issue cowardly, dismissive insults as you run away.

    If you are so rock-solid certain of your position, defend your pronouncements with facts. If you are unable to defend them, admit your multiple errors.

    A case in point is you latest claim, that of “congressional oversight of the executive branch” as it related to foreign affairs.

    The only oversight afforded by the Constitution to the legislative branch regarding foreign policy is that the Senate has to ratify treaties with foreign governments with a two-thirds majority of those present, and the Senate may play an “advise and consent” role in the appointment of ambassadors and other public ministers (see Article II, Section, U.S. Constitution).

    The House of Representatives, including the Speaker of the House plays no role whatsoever in foreign policy matters, other than regulating commerce, or declaring wars and grant letters of marque and reprisal (see Article I, Section 8, U.S. Constitution).

    In short, your claims of congressional oversight in this matter are not legally supportable, and form the fig-leaf of a pathetic excuse with no legal standing.

    Again, debate me on the facts… if you think you can.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    I don’t know what makes you think that just because you come here with some off the wall assertions that I should waste any time “debating” you. This has all been dealt with in the past.

    Ratifying treaties is only one aspect of government policy related to affairs with other countries. Matters involving other nations is often considered in the House. The House, among other committees, has its own Foreign Affairs Committee. The business of other committeess also involves foreign affairs. Having the authority over appropriations also gives them reason to be involved in a wide variety of matters. Many members of Congress have been traveling to other countries for years.

    Don’ t expect any sympathy over the fact that you can’t handle a few insults. You came here hurling insulits. You shouldn’t be surprised when this is returned by noting how absurd your arguments are. Someone who claims that “liberalism is a persistent vegetative state” is in no position to complain that they are the victim of an ad hominem attack.

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