Looking Like You’re Doing Something Important*

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.  

8 thoughts on “Looking Like You’re Doing Something Important*

  1. Tonight, Bill O’Reilly attacked the “radical movement” that opposed the Nevada Democratic Party’s debate with Fox News. O’Reilly said that MoveOn, “the Daily Kos or whatever that stupid thing is,” and others “use propaganda techniques perfected by Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of information. They lie, distort, defame, all the time.” Progressive activists attack Fox News because “we report on them accurately,” O’Reilly said.
    http://thinkprogress.org/2007/03/12/oreilly-nevada-debate/
    Fox isn’t much of a “news” channel. It is tempting to take your point – use very opportunity to spread the Democratic message, but then there is the issue of legitimizing Fox and by proxy the likes of O’Liely, Hannity, and Gibson. Then there is the fact that Fox could have probably had the debates if they would have allowed Air America to co-sponsor it and been part of the questioning panel – that element combined with their record of demonizing anyone to the left of Ann Coulter as suspicious at best.

  2. How is it relevant to the 2008 election whether or not Fox is “legitimized” by the Democratic Party? Is that election going to be a referendum on Fox News? The spat between Fox and the left-wing blogosphere is a sideshow. Why would the great Democratic Party, facing an historic election in which the issues are war and peace, terrorism and security, global warming and energy, health care, immigration, trade and the deteriorating state of the middle class, allow itself to be dragged into a pissing match between Bill O’Reilly and Kos? Two idiots of no real consequence who will not be on any ballots? It is childish, as well as self-defeating. Democrats who are into “the narrative” must understand that the narrative presented by this story makes the party look unready for power.

    The fact is, Fox News has already gained “legitimacy” in the eyes of its viewers. It is not something that can be bestowed upon it by the Democratic Party of Nevada or anywhere else. They have a First Amendment right to do what they are doing, and if there’s a market for it, it’s legitimate.

  3. Pingback: Herr Russert, der Fuhrer? « From the Desert to the Sea…

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