In a must read, the L.A. Times’ Scott Collins writes about the Democratic boycott of the CBC Institute/FNC debate setting a dangerous precedent…
But the activists’ battle cries notwithstanding, Fox is a news network, even if many liberals don’t like the way it spins political stories. If Democrats get away with spurning Fox News now, there’s nothing to stop campaigns from barring other news organizations whenever they feel like it.
Leading Democrats have in the past accepted its journalistic bona fides; Clinton and Edwards did separate prime-time interviews with the network in January, although Obama has been far more chary with his Fox News appearances. Fox News says Edwards has appeared on its air at least 33 times in the last seven years. When exactly did the network’s “right-wing agenda” become so offensive to him?
The boycott is questionable on both tactical and strategic grounds as well. As the No. 1 cable news network, Fox News could provide a critical forum for the Democratic contenders. And as Mayer pointed out, the boycott will have the unintended effect of teeing up the eventual GOP nominee to make a noisy demand to meet his Democratic rival on Fox News before the election.
But those are matters best left to political advisors. The main point is that it’s a horrible precedent to allow presidential candidates to boycott and pillory major news organizations as propaganda machines. Are politicians free to play favorites and punish transgressors in the press corps? Sure; remember that George W. Bush was caught on a live microphone calling a New York Times reporter “a major-league….”
Shutting down a legitimate debate, however, is carrying things way too far and does a disservice to all Americans. Movie stars such as Jolie can ban Fox News or any other outlet all they want. but those who would lead the nation shouldn’t be able to get away with it.