With the dust settling from the first group encounter of the 2008 presidential race, the Nevada Democratic forum in Carson City, everyone’s looking to what’s next for the race in the second-in-the-nation contest. In Nevada, as Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Molly Ball writes, happy organizers are turning their sights to the next event on tap, another issues forum with the Democratic presidential candidates on March 24th. Focusing principally on health care, this will take place at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.
Unlike this week’s forum, oddly skipped by second place candidate Barack Obama, whose campaign offered only a general explanation as to why he would be flying from Los Angeles to Iowa at the time of the forum to pursue a vague schedule in the site of the first-in-the-nation contest, the freshman senator from Illinois will, sources close to him tell NWN, participate in the Las Vegas forum next month.
Meanwhile, a dust-up in the lefty blogosphere looks unlikely to upset arrangements for a full-on Nevada presidential debate in August. But first, a moment more on Carson City.
Carson City’s Republican mayor called the Democratic presidential forum the biggest event to hit his fair city, population 57,000 (although it seems less driving swiftly through the downtown area), in over 100 years. The last big event, he said, was a world heavyweight boxing championship fight back in 1897. Between Gentleman Jim Braddock and, ah, the guy who lost.
It’s actually pretty cool to have the presidential campaign descend upon a small desert community with the Sierra Nevada mountains less than 20 miles away. A reminder that success in Nevada doesn’t simply lie close to the bright lights of Vegas and that early victory in the race for the White House may be eked out in the Western equivalents of Sioux City and Nashua.
What’s not so cool is the dust-up over the Nevada Democratic Party’s decision to have Fox News cablecast the August debate in Reno. Elements of the lefty blogosphere, as reported the other day, are trying to get the party to dump cablecast partner Fox News or, failing that, get candidates not to participate.
I think the move will be a non-starter. Not that they don’t have a point. Here’s what MoveOn.org sent out Thursday morning to members:
Dear MoveOn member,
The Democratic Party of Nevada just announced plans to let Fox News host a presidential primary debate. But Fox isn’t a legitimate news channel. It’s a right-wing mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh and the Drudge Report—repeating false Republican talking points to smear Democrats.
Fox has already tried to skew the ‘08 race by accusing Senator Barack Obama of attending a terrorist school. CNN immediately exposed the charge as false, and Obama hit back by refusing to appear on Fox—sending them scrambling. Democrats can force Fox to be fair and balanced by fighting back hard.
Can you sign this petition asking the Democratic Party of Nevada to drop Fox as its partner for the presidential primary debate?
The full text of the petition is: “Fox is a mouthpiece for the Republican Party, not a legitimate news channel. The Democratic Party of Nevada should drop Fox as its partner for the presidential primary debate.”
The Daily Kos is pushing it, too, with Kos telling his followers they have to pressure “the Dim Wit Nevada Democrats,” a classic example of style in the yaposphere of both Democratic and Republican hyperpartisan extremes. (Since the Democratic Parties of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Montana have all signed on as co-sponsors of the Reno debate, perhaps Kos should be talking about Dim Wit Western Democrats. Or perhaps not.)
What’s wrong with Fox News for these folks? The TV network comes off as fairly anti-Democratic. People are upset about a 2004 Democratic debate that aired with talking heads interjecting comments and the Democratic Party referred to as the “Democrat” Party throughout. That’s a particularly sophomoric rhetorical ploy on the right. You can’t change the name of a political party to suit your partisan fancy, and no other serious journalistic organization would do that.
But Fox News, although it has its problems — the audience is not the most desirable demographic for advertisers — is the largest cable news network. It would be foolish of the Democrats, so long as the ground rules are firmly established, not to expose their candidates to a different audience, some of which may be pleasantly surprised. It would also be foolish of the Democrats to look like they are kow-towing to the “netroots.”
The Democratic Party is simply bigger than a cable news network. So don’t expect Fox to be dropped. Do expect Fox News personalities to be on good behavior around that August debate. Besides, it’s not at all clear that Rupert Murdoch likes the Republicans’ chances in 2008.