Washington, D.C. March 17, 2007 CNN, the Manchester Union Leader and the Hearst-owned WMUR-TV have formally decided to exclude Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Mike Gravel from the debates they will be sponsoring in New Hampshire.
This decision calls into question media censorship and goes against a fundamental American belief in “Fairness,” which is especially critical in the political process.
The Senator said, “By denying me the same opportunity afforded to other presidential candidates to discuss in public debate the major issues that confront our nation, the sponsoring media outlets––CNN, The Manchester Union Leader and the Hearst-owned WMUR-TV––are exercising censorship, unbecoming in a free society. They are dictating whose political voice they will permit New Hampshire and American citizens to hear.”
“These media outlets are depriving the people the right to hear a voice they may very well want to hear, and in my case, a voice with some new and different ideas not expressed by other candidates––not ‘politics as usual.’ This amounts to denying the people the right to an informed choice from among all the declared and legitimate candidates, not just those deemed worthy by a few media organizations.”
The Senator continued, “It is not CNN’s, the Manchester Union Leader’s or Hearst’s WMUR-TV’s place to decide whose voice should and should not be heard in a debate between legitimate and qualified presidential candidates for the nomination of their political parties. When my staff inquired as to why I was being barred from participating in the debate, they received the Orwellian response that my candidacy did not meet certain criteria––a criteria that the media organizations refused to divulge when asked.”
A poll of political scientists and speech specialists in Nevada rated Senator Gravel the third most effective presenter at the debate/forum sponsored by ABC, AFSCME, and the Nevada Democratic party in Carson City last month.
The Senator concluded, “In short, this action is an insidious form of censorship that injures the American people and its political process, already compromised by the corrupting and excessive influence of money, while seriously eroding the concept of fairness so central to the American ethos and culture.
The actions of CNN, The Manchester Union Leader and Hearst’s WMUR-TV set a dangerous precedent and are more akin to totalitarian tyrannies than the world’s greatest democracy, particularly in a state with the motto: “Live Free or Die.” We can only wonder what is behind such inappropriate intervention in our political process that does not let the people decide.”
Mike Gravel, a resident of Virginia, is a former two-term Senator from Alaska with a distinguished record that includes successfully ending the military draft with a five-month filibuster, releasing the Pentagon Papers risking both prosecution and jail, playing the leading role in making the Alaska pipeline a reality, and ending nuclear testing in Alaska. He is the driving force and author of the National Initiative for Democracy, a proposal to bring the ballot initiative lawmaking process––already proven in many states as an effective and necessary check on unresponsive representative government––to the Federal level.