Netroots Blast Nevada Democrats for FOX Debate

Outraged that the Nevada Democratic Party decided to have their candidate debate on the cable news network with the largest national audience, the Netroots are springing into action, with DailyKos, MyDD, MoveOn.org and BlogPAC urging their minions to TAKE ACTION by sending a form email to the Powers That Be.

The source of this outrage? FOX analysts and the network’s graphics department summarized the last Democratic debate they hosted in ways some might consider unflattering:

[C]onsider the September 9, 2003 Democratic debate in Baltimore, Maryland, hosted by Fox News in partnership with the Congressional Black Caucus. Fox News graphics, as well as a banner over the stage, titled the event as the “Democrat Candidate Presidential Debate,” a misconstruction of “Democrat” used as an an epithet. Fox News then summarized the debate with a story titled, “Democratic Candidates Offer Grim View of America,” continuing with such jabs as, “The depiction of the president as the root of all evil began at the top of Tuesday night’s debate….” Controversial questions included the accusation that Howard Dean had a racist gun policy by Fox News analyst Juan Williams. There were also multiple interruptions by protesters throughout the debate, leading to four arrests.

I’ve written before about the “Democrat Party” nonsense and agree that it should stop. And I can’t imagine that the Democrats weren’t offering a pretty grim view of America on the eve of the 2004 elections. That’s what opposition parties do.

More importantly, though, it wouldn’t be hard to go through transcripts of Republican debates on CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, or elsewhere that had unflattering language used against conservatives, the Christian Right, and so forth. Indeed, the perception that the other networks are biased to the left is one reason FOX caught on as it did.

Regardless, I like the BlogPAC suggestion:

It would be better to do this on MSNBC, CNN, C-Span, or just stream it on the Internet where progressive blogs can carry it.

In the spirit of bipartisan comity (Or is that comedy? I can never remember.) I hereby call for all future debates to be hosted exclusively on Outside The Beltway. It’s the least I can do for the good of the Republic.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Campaign 2008, Media, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    Another example of the Democrats being held hstage by the extreme left. Sorry, what it is.

  2. DC Loser says:

    That’s the pot calling the kettle black 🙂

  3. Michael says:

    More importantly, though, it wouldnt be hard to go through transcripts of Republican debates on CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, or elsewhere that had unflattering language used against conservatives

    Then by all means, since it would be so easy, lets get those examples up.

  4. LaurenceB says:

    With the advent of the “Half Hour News Hour” on Fox News, I think the debate over whether Fox News is biased has ended. They have as much as admitted it. In the same stroke, they’ve also fessed up to the fact that they’re not really a “news” network. That’s quite remarkable.

    Until some other cable news or broadcast news network chooses to pull a similar stunt I think its quite proper and reasonable to treat Fox News as something unique and reprehensible – to be avoided whenever possible.

    Put differently, the difference between Fox News and other news networks is similar to the difference between an umpire who is known to gamble and one that is not. Both may make questionable calls, but we justifiably will be more suspicious of the gambler.

    While Dr. Joyner is correct that if one is disposed to, one can read bias into any network’s debate reporting, Fox News is a special case, simply because they admit to a bias. That makes their reporting especially – and justifiably – suspect, and I think may make them unfit to host a debate.

  5. John says:

    By suggesting MSNBC and CNN as alternatives, BlogPAC reveals that it is not “partisan propaganda outlets” they object to per se.

    Only “partisan Republican propaganda outlets.”

    And if the debate should be, as they suggest, “just streamed on the Internet,” does that not deny access to the debate to those who don’t have Internet access?

    You know, the very people the Left claims to care so much about, the poor?

  6. Mark says:

    About those arrests – if I recall those people were the LaRouche crowd (hardly right-wingers planted by Fox), and they were trying to shout down Joe Lieberman, not exactly the left’s favorite son. In fact, when you consider the absolute hatred the left has for Lieberman, I would think they would be applauding their LaRouche comrades!

    But, this whole episode is just another example of the left demanding ideological purity. First among their representatives, buy now they are going to target other venues they deem inapproriate as well. Television stations that liberals deem inappropriate (or dangerous) for Americans to watch are targeted for censure, and radio hosts that do not have the appropriate viewpoints are assaulted under the banner of the “Fairness Doctrine.”

  7. James Joyner says:

    Then by all means, since it would be so easy, lets get those examples up.

    I didn’t say it wouldn’t be time-consuming, just that examples of this low magnitude abound. The on-screen chirons aren’t part of transcripts, anyway.

    The Dan Rather “in her opinion” monologue when Harris read off the legally binding results of the Florida vote count in 2000 is an obvious example that comes to mind.

    Newsbusters has tons of examples. These just from the last three days:

    I think some of these show legitimate bias and others are more dubious. Still, most are at least as “outrageous” as the suggestion that Democrats were portraying a bleak portrait of life in America. And, certainly, those with differing viewpoints would view this coverage as slanted.

    Fox News is a special case, simply because they admit to a bias.

    One could argue that admitting to a bias is preferable to having one and pretending otherwise.

  8. It’s true that Fox leans right, but the Democrats presumably want to pick up some conservative voters. If they get treated unfairly on Fox and end up looking bad, most viewers sympathetic to Dems will view it as Fox’s biases. If a Democrat goes over well, it will be seen as much more impressive than doing so on CNN. The Democrats have a good opportunity on Fox News.

  9. carpeicthus says:

    Bithead: The left saying something is an example of Democrats being held hostage? Isn’t the fact that the Dems are letting Fox host the debate the exact opposite of what you’re saying? That was rhetorical; it obviously is.

  10. Ron says:

    In the spirit of bipartisan comity (Or is that comedy? I can never remember.) I hereby call for all future debates to be hosted exclusively on Outside The Beltway. It’s the least I can do for the good of the Republic.

    For a nominal fee of course!

  11. Michael says:

    James,
    Where any of those links directly related to a Republican debate? That was, after all, your initial claim, that those networks run headlines or graphics that could be considered damaging to the Republican party in conjunction with their hosting of a Republican debate.

    I’m not saying that Fox News shouldn’t make stories like this, I don’t think the Democrats should not hold debates on Fox News simply because the have and will continue to run stories that are damaging to the Democratic party. But the whole point of a Democratic debate is to highlight the Democratic candidates, you don’t want them to be undermined by the very people who are hosting it directly afterward, or possibly even in the very middle of it.

  12. James Joyner says:

    But the whole point of a Democratic debate is to highlight the Democratic candidates, you don’t want them to be undermined by the very people who are hosting it directly afterward, or possibly even in the very middle of it.

    Well, no. The point of a Democratic candidate debate is to help potential Democratic primary voters differentiate the candidates. If it’s a propaganda effort, no news outlet should air it.

    I don’t have access to a transcript of anchor and panel comments from the most recent Republican debates (which would have been, what, 2000?), let alone with the chiron graphics annotated. Given a tape of one of those from any of the major commercial networks (ie, not CPAN) you’d see the same kind of thing. The examples provided above just demonstrate the pervasiveness of it.

  13. Michael says:

    Well, no. The point of a Democratic candidate debate is to help potential Democratic primary voters differentiate the candidates.

    Ha ha ha ha!

    If its a propaganda effort, no news outlet should air it.

    ha ha.. ha… ha? Oh god you’re being serious.

    Come on James, you didn’t get into politics yesterday. Candidates have no trouble showing how the others are “different” in campaign ads, they don’t needs debates for that. Debates, like recent Presidential press conferences and SOTU addresses are nothing but policy propaganda. You know that, I know that, everyone who reads your site knows that, why pretend otherwise?

    Now I respect you James, and will usually give you the benefit of the doubt, but until someone produces some reference to MSNBC, CNN, or C-SPAN airing something damaging to Republicans while hosting a Republican debate, your claim that Fox News isn’t a special case is just you saying something you believe to be true.

  14. Apparently, no true Scotsman has ever debated on MSNBC, CNN, or C-SPAN. And someone seems to have taken a Fox comedy show for a news report, which is strange since he seems to view Fox News as a comedy show.