Thought today’s editorial from Fosters Daily Democrat in Dover, NH, would be of interest to you. It’s not just FOX, but the ABC debates on Saturday, that are planning to limit participants. This is a terrible precedent for those of us who believe the first-in-the-nation primary serves a national purpose. Next time the media will want to limit participants three months out from actual voting taking place. We don’t stop the football or baseball season early just because we have a good sense which teams will likely make the playoffs, and give them a bye. We play out the full regular season and then start the playoffs.
FOX must not act as a censor
Article Date: Wednesday, January 2, 2008
It is not often that you will find Republican and Democratic leaders in agreement on a political issue. When it happens it's worth noting and in at least one instance worth commending.
Fergus Cullen, chairman of New Hampshire's Republican Party, has called on FOX News to open primary weekend debates to all serious candidates and not limit the forums to a select few.
In a statement issued Friday, Cullen said, "Limiting the number of candidates who are invited to participate in debates is not consistent with (New Hampshire's) first-in-the-nation primary.
"The level playing field requires that all serious candidates be given an equal opportunity to participate — not just a select few determined by the media prior to any votes being cast," Cullen said.
FOX has scheduled such a selective debate for Sunday, Jan. 6 — two days before the New Hampshire primaries.
Ray Buckley, chairman of the state's Democratic Party, has a similar view.
"New Hampshire has a long and proud tradition of serving as a level playing field and is the one state where each candidate can be given an equal opportunity to be heard bythe voters," Buckley said this week.
He went on to say, "I would strongly encourage any (NewHampshire) media outlet holding candidate debates or forums not to eliminate a sitting U.S.senator member of Congress."
Cullen and Buckley have joined in taking the political high ground. The people, not the media, make the choices in our country. When the people are deprived of hearing all the serious candidates for high and low offices, they are excluded from an important part of the process.
Who is a serious candidate, someone might ask.
It's fair to start where Buckley began, with members of Congress —members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Governors and other nationally prominent persons must be included as well.
It was once said — even believed — that any American has a chance to grow up to be president. We might modify that today by saying it may still true, but only if that person is capable of first raising $100 million or $200 million.
Yes, the days of "smoke-filled rooms" are gone. Candidates for president are no longer chosen by party bosses. They are chosen by the people in caucuses and primaries in states like Iowa and New Hampshire.
When media outlets begin serving as pre-primary filters, they are inserting themselves between the people and the way in which candidates are chosen. They are establishing a role to which they are not entitled — one that weakens the process.
Media endorsements of candidates has been common for what is probably hundred of years. If such endorsements serve any purpose it is probably to do little more than strengthen views already formed.
At the same time, when any medium decides who will or will not be heard, it is doing a great disservice to its viewers, its readers and its listeners. They are serving to censor discussion in a manner that discourages political debate, breeds public distrust and contributes to growing cynicism.
The role of television in political discussion is a public trust — a trust too difficult to quantify, but even so, one licensed by the people.
We hope FOX News and all major candidates for president will call on FOX to follow the formats so far successful in leading up to the caucuses and primaries.