Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Tom Collins Offers Fox News Debate "Compromise" Including Air America

After Edwards jumped ship, Nevada State Party Chairman Tom Collins is forced to backpaddle:

March 7, 2007

Dear Nevada Democrats:

As you know, the Nevada State Democratic Party has agreed to host a debate with FOX News that has caused some concern among some of our activist allies. Because FOX has such an editorial bias against Democrats, some of our allies believe that we should have chosen another media partner. Senator Reid shares some of these concerns and has asked us to take another look at the parameters of this debate in order to ensure that all Democrats are comfortable as we move forward.

Our objective in hosting the August debate with FOX has not been to endorse the FOX News Channel. Our objective with this debate is the same as our objective in hosting an early Nevada Caucus in general -- to have as many opportunities for Nevada voters and voters throughout the West to hear directly from the candidates for president as possible. That is why our first forum was hosted with ABC News as the broadcaster, our November debate will be hosted by CNN and the final debate in January 2008 will be hosted with another outlet.

In planning the debate, the Nevada Democratic Party has been aware of the intricacies of dealing with FOX and so we secured assurances from them that the details of the debate were mutually agreed upon such as format, panelists, set design, and the assurance of an uninterrupted broadcast without commentary. FOX has also agreed to carry the debate live on KVVU, the affiliate in Las Vegas where most Nevada voters live. Other affiliates may follow. We believe that these details will assure that voters have the opportunity to focus on the candidates and the issues and not the panelists or commentators for an uninterrupted 90 minutes.

Since reaching that agreement with FOX we were heartened to hear from so many people who supported our decision to reach out to voters wherever they may be, including those watching FOX News. The state parties of Arizona, Montana, Colorado and New Mexico joined in support of our decision along with DNC Chairman Howard Dean, many members of the Nevada media and the leaders of the Nevada AFL-CIO, Culinary Union and Professional Firefighters Association. While one of our state party’s Executive Board members has been vocally opposed to the debate, several party leaders have expressed support, including:

* Chris Wicker, Washoe County Chair:

* Tom Gallagher, 2004 candidate for Congress from NV-03

However we decided to take a step back and make our best effort to address the concerns that have been raised including:

* Many Democrats will want to watch or listen to the debate without supporting the FOX News Channel.

* There was a desire to include a panelist from a more progressive outlet, such as Air America, to ensure balance at the questioners table.

* There was also a desire to bolster a progressive media outlet, such as Air America or Politics TV that could use the opportunity to grow its constituency.

In answer to these concerns, we have secured an agreement to invite KJFK radio, the local Air America affiliate, to air the event live and C-Span will be able to carry the debate twice in its entirety after the conclusion of FOX’s broadcast. Additionally, the Nevada Democratic Party has an agreement to invite a local progressive voice onto the debate panel.

We will also offer the ability to carry the live FOX News web cast feed on its site for one-time viewing. If PoliticsTV agrees, this will give national viewers who do not wish to watch FOX the ability to watch the debate live while bolstering a progressive leaning organization.

With these additions, we feel that we have addressed the concerns of our activists and our own objectives:

* To keep the debate focused on the candidates and allow unfiltered access for our viewers.

* To keep the debate focused on the issues important to Nevada voters.

* To ensure that the most people possible have access to the debate and the candidates.

With these changes, we believe we have made a good-faith effort to address the concerns laid out to us and look forward to working with the candidates and our local supporters to ensuring the best debate possible.


Tom Collins
Nevada Democratic Party

This all looks quite preliminary, and in its preliminary state feels like some people are starting to panick. Supposedly, at 11.45 PST a conference call of the Executive Board was supposed to take place. If the time of that call was not changed this, again, was a unilateral decision by Tom Collins. Let's hope it's not.

Asking a local Air America affiliate along at this stage is simply not enough. In this point I can only agree with both Kos and Matt Stoller that it's too little, too late. Before Edwards' announced decision not to take part in the debate this might have done. Now, it just won't.

It also speaks volumes that they want to "invite a local progressive voice onto the debate panel", but are not ready to name names and have probably not contacted anyone yet. And "a local progressive voice". Who is that supposed to be? Myrna the Minx?

And than reread this:

We will also offer the ability to carry the live FOX News web cast feed on its site for one-time viewing. If PoliticsTV agrees, this will give national viewers who do not wish to watch FOX the ability to watch the debate live while bolstering a progressive leaning organization.

Tom Collins dares to mention PoliticsTV in his mail, yet has not received an agreement with PoliticsTV and you have to wonder whether they even asked. This whole statement reeks of pandering and panic. Geez!

1 comment:

texex said...

The Carson City Democrrats responded last night to Collins letter with some whereas' of their own (cf Taylor Marsh and mydd)

Carson City Democratic Central Committee
March 7, 2007

WHEREAS, Fox News is not a neutral source of news – it’s a right-wing mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh that smears Democrats and spreads blatantly false information; and

WHEREAS, Democrats granting Fox News the illusion of credibility would allow Fox to more easily “swiftboat” our 2008 candidates by pushing false Republican attacks into the mainstream media; and

WHEREAS, everyone supports reaching out to new people, but 1 day of Fox coverage is not worth legitimizing Fox’s misinformation the other 364 days a year; and

WHEREAS, plenty of better alternatives exist to Fox News – in Nevada, MSNBC plus its NBC affiliates, for example, get approximately double the viewers of Fox cable plus its local affiliates; and

WHEREAS, we believe that Democrats need to fight back against Fox News and the right-wing smear machine in the 2008 election cycle—not enable it.

BE IT RESOLVED, the Carson City Democratic Central Committee opposes the proposal to let Fox News host a Democratic presidential debate and strongly urges the Nevada Democratic Party to drop that proposal.
More groups on the way? Hope so.