Thursday, 08 March 2007


Ken Berwitz

In his offbeat, fascinating book "Slaughterhouse Five", Kurt Vonnegut wrote about the Trafalmadorians.  They got through life by concentrating on what they thought were the good things and trying as best they could to avoid the things they didn't like.

Based on Democrats' reaction to an upcoming debate on the Fox News Channel, I'm starting to wonder if a few of them were born on Trafalmadore, or at least spent some formative years there. 

Fox News Channel is pre-eminent among Cable news venues.  Every one of its prime time shows (from 7PM to 11PM) has more viewers than any of the others have at ANY point in prime time.  But to the hardliners among Democrats, Fox is disqualified as a venue for political debate because "THOSE" people are watching, not "OUR" people -- which is breathtakingly ridiculous.  Read this  and see for yourself (bold print mine):.

CBS/AP) Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards won't participate in a debate co-hosted by Fox News and the Nevada Democratic Party, his campaign said, as party officials tried to settle a dustup over their partnership with the cable network.

Edwards' campaign said the involvement of Fox News, which is often accused by liberals of having a conservative bias, was part of the decision to pass on the Aug. 14 debate in Reno.

"There were a number of factors and Fox was one of those. We're already planning to participate in a jam-packed schedule of debates across this country ... we can't attend every single debate and forum," the campaign said in a statement.

The two Democratic presidential frontrunners, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, have not indicated whether they will attend the Nevada debate. Fox boss Rupert Murdoch threw a Senate fundraiser for Clinton, and is said to have a good relationship with the former first lady.

Online activists and bloggers quickly hailed Edwards' decision as a victory in their campaign to urge Nevada Democrats to drop Fox News as a partner. Civic Action says it has collected more than 260,000 signatures on a petition that calls the cable network a "mouthpiece for the Republican Party, not a legitimate news channel."

Fox News Channel vice president of news David Rhodes issued a statement calling it "unfortunate that Sen. Edwards has decided to abandon an opportunity to reach the largest mainstream cable news audience in America."

On the language of the petition, Rhodes has said: "Everyone has a right to free speech."

Democratic Party officials and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid initially touted the partnership with Fox News as an opportunity to reach out to a different bloc of voters.

But in a letter posted Wednesday on the party's Web site, Democratic Party Chairman Tom Collins said Reid now shares activists' concerns and "has asked us to take another look."

Collins said the party would invite a "local progressive voice" to participate on the debate pan el, which also would include a reporter from a local Fox affiliate, a national Fox News reporter and the moderator.

The party also invited the local Air America affiliate, a liberal radio network, to air the event live. C-SPAN will carry the debate after the Fox News broadcast and to carry the live Fox News webcast feed on its site for one-time viewing, he said.

MoveOn Civic Action spokesman Adam Green dismissed the offer as "a lame proposal that would have multiple Fox personalities joined by one lone Air America panelist. That's a rigged, unfair and unbalanced debate."

"The Fox debate should just be canceled and a more legitimate news source should be found," Green said.

If Republicans dealt with cable similarly - i.e. by taking their marbles and going home whenever the other side had an edge -- could they ever accept MSNBC, with its twin partisans of chris mouthews and keith olbermann?  How about the networks?  Would Dan Rather have disqualified CBS for all those years?  How about former Jimmy Carter intern Brian Williams at NBC right now?  Etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum ad nauseam.

The bottom line here is that some (not all) Democrats play with a stacked deck or they don't play at all.  They don't compete on the other guy's turf, only their own.  And, once again, we see that is pulling the strings on key Democratic decisions these days. 

When I was going to junior high school in Queens (Parsons Junior High, for anyone who cares) kids who complained every time things didn't go their way got the defecation beat out of them during recess.  In politics, they just whine like babies who need defecation cleaned from their diapers.  That's progress, I guess.

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