ABC Screwing Kucinich Again

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Kucinich files complaint on ABC debate (AP via Yahoo! News)

I wish I could say that this comes as a surprise to me. A little over four years ago, though, before any primaries had taken place for the 2004 nomination campaign, ABC announced that it would be withdrawing its reporters from the campaigns of Kucinich, Carol Moseley-Braun, and Rev. Al Sharpton. No one believed it was a coincidence that ABC happened to choose the three progressive candidates then, and I doubt anyone believes now that ABC is choosing to remove the two most left-wing candidates (Kucinich and Mike Gravel, whose exclusion from this debate isn’t garnering as much coverage as it should) from tonight’s debate because of some set of standards that we’re mysteriously just hearing about now. I haven’t seen any recent polls from New Hampshire, but I remember that just before I got sick Kucinich had actually moved into a tie with Richardson for fourth place in New Hampshire. Perhaps that has changed since then, but the fact that ABC is only inviting the candidates whose campaigns ABC contributes to, for lack of a better word, stinks.

I know that Kucinich sent a bulletin out via his MySpace to have his supporters gather outside the soon-to-start debate in protest, which reminds me of 2004 again. When the Federal Election Commission decided to make the 2004 debates the usual two-party affair, both the Green and Libertarian candidates protested outside the debates, and both were arrested, which I thought showed great courage on both their parts. If only the mainstream media paid attention to the importance of this matter, instead of beating the ignorant "Nader spoiled 2000" drum they’ve been reskinning over and over again these past four years. I can only hope that this year the Olbermanns of the mainstream media shines more than a laser pointer on the third-party campaigns this year, as I think this year, more than ever, the American voting public is going to want something more than the same-old same-old from the Big Two candidates.

Fox News excluding Ron Paul from their upcoming debate may be as egregious as ABC’s actions, too. I make no secret of my disdain of Paul, particularly among so-called "liberals" who should have the sense to realize that Paul’s bedrock principles are directly opposed to true liberalism, but I won’t deny that the man has a very strong, very vocal following, and his strong showing in Iowa should give him an automatic in for all the remaining debates. Given that Paul’s social libertarianism goes against the social conservatism blathered every night by Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, though, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that Fox News would try to silence Paul by any means possible. As much press as fiscal conservatives’ attempts to silence Mike Huckabee are getting now, I think the Religious Right’s antagonism against Paul is a far more important story for our democracy. As much as ABC’s anti-Kucinich/Gravel tactics stink, at the very least ABC can point to Kucinich and Gravel’s poll numbers as a way to weasel out of serious debate of the role of the press in presidential campaigns. Fox News has no such way to weasel out of a similar debate regarding Paul, which just goes to underscore all the more how Fox News is not a real press outfit.

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