The successful campaign to get the Nevada Democratic Party to pull out of a debate sponsored by the most successful cable news network represents the essence of vanity politics. I hate to break it to MoveOn.org and other Democratic activists, but, at least as of this writing, people who watch Fox News are still, surprisingly, allowed to vote. By shunning their network of choice, aren’t you shunning them as well?
This editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal was a bit sarcastic, but apt:
Hard-core liberals can’t stand the Fox News Channel. Passing a television that’s tuned to the conservative favorite forces many of them to close their eyes, cover their ears and scream, “La la la la la la la la la!” Then they dash to their computers and fire off 2,500 e-mails condemning the outlet, none of which are ever read.
But liberals’ aversion to Fox News has finally gone over the top. The Nevada Democratic Party had agreed to let the right-tilting network co-sponsor, of all things, an August debate in Reno between Democratic presidential candidates. Party officials were serious about drawing national attention to the state’s January presidential caucus, the country’s second in the 2008 nominating process. What better way for the party to reach conservative and “values” voters who might consider changing allegiances?
But the socialist, Web-addicted wing of the Democratic Party was apoplectic. The prospect of having to watch Fox News to see their own candidates would have been torture in itself. So they set the blogosphere aflame with efforts to kill the broadcast arrangement, or at least have all the candidates pull out of the event. Before Friday, the opportunistic John Edwards was the only candidate to jump on that bandwagon.
You’d think the deal called for having Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter mock the candidates between comments. No, even unfiltered, unedited, live debate between loyal Democrats couldn’t be entrusted to Fox News.
The approach of outfits such as MoveOn.org is so juvenile it’s laughable. Imagine if every political organization created litmus tests for news organizations before agreeing to appear on their programming. Republicans would have boycotted PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, National Public Radio and The Associated Press decades ago.
So how did the state party, which voluntarily agreed to this debate, get out of it? By accusing Roger Ailes, Fox News President, of being insensitive to Barack Obama by making the following joke at a radio/TV correspondents’ dinner:
“It’s true that Barack Obama is on the move,” Ailes said, deliberately confusing the Illinois senator’s name with that of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. “I don’t know if it’s true President Bush called [Pakistan President Pervez] Musharraf and said, ‘Why can’t we catch this guy?’ “
Say what? This is a joke at President Bush’s expense, not Obama’s. Get it? See, what Ailes was trying to say was that Skippy the Bush Chimp Hitler is soooo dumb, he doesn’t know the difference between… oh, never mind. I forgot. You never laugh at any jokes that don’t have the words “wanker” or “fucktard” in them.
I realize it’s easy enough to write an e-mail or a blog post, so perhaps you can’t argue that this campaign to impose reverse censorship on Fox News didn’t cost the blogging left a whole lot of time. But, isn’t there something else going on the Democrats should be focusing on?
*Update, 3/11/07. In a column about Gov. Bill Richardson’s Nevada strategy, the Review Journal’s Eric Neff subtly shows why this was such a self-sabotaging move by the Democrats.
Richardson, the New Mexico governor with the best resume to be president, knows the West. Democrats rightly believe the path to the White House in 2008 runs through the West, where voters like their guns and open space almost as much as they dislike taxes and government intrusion.
Nevada has done nothing politically to suggest it doesn’t fit that mold. Voters have declared the state pro-choice and approved medical marijuana at the same time they have sought to restrain taxes and have elected fiscal conservatives statewide.
But unless Democrats reach out to Republicans and independents in Elko and Esmeralda counties, you can forget about Nevada going blue. And unless Democrats reach out to all voters nationally, the White House isn’t going to change parties.
When you reach out to people who don’t know you — whether on Fox News or in Carlin — you’re more likely to open people’s minds. The true believers won’t budge, but there are plenty who will.
But MoveOn.org apparently doesn’t want Democratic candidates to get moderate or independent votes. Instead of winning elections, they apparently would rather exhibit their disdain for Fox News. Well, hope that works out for you guys.