The Nevada Democratic Party today backed out of a FOX News-sponsored
presidential debate after Fox President Roger Ailes's recent remarks
Democratic Senator Barack Obama to al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
In a joint letter faxed today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Tom
Collins, the head of the Nevada Democratic Party, informed Fox News
executive producer Marty Ryan of the decision.
"A month ago, the Nevada Democratic Party entered into a good faith
agreement with FOX News to co-sponsor a presidential debate in August,''
Reid and Collins said in the letter. "This was done because the Nevada
Democratic Party is reaching out to new voters and we strongly believe
that a Democrat will not win Nevada unless we find new ways to talk to new people. To say the least, this
was not a popular decision. But it is one that the Democratic Party
"However, comments made last night by FOX News President Roger Ailes in
reference to one of our presidential candidates went too far,'' the
letter went on. "We cannot, as good Democrats, put our party in a
position to defend such comments. In light of his comments, we have
concluded that it is not possible to hold a Presidential debate that
will focus on our candidates and are therefore canceling our August
debate. We take no pleasure in this, but it is the only course of action.''
At the same Radio-Television News Directors Association and Foundation dinner
where he made the controversial remarks about Obama, Ailes referred to the pressure to drop FOX: "Pressure groups are forcing candidates to
conclude that the best strategy for journalists is divide and conquer,
to only appear on those networks and venues that give them favorable
coverage...This pressure must be resisted, as it has been in the past. Any
candidate for high office of either party who believes he can blacklist
any news organization is making a terrible mistake,'' Ailes said, adding
that the strategy would surely backfire with voters.
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards had already announced
that he would not participate in the Fox debate.
His party was under pressure from the more than 265,000 people who
signed a petition calling Fox "a mouthpiece for the Republican Party,
not a legitimate news channel" and urging Nevada officials to cancel.
Danny Coyle, a MoveOn.org member who serves on the Executive Board of
the Carson City Democratic Central Committee, yesterday offered a
resolution calling on the state party to drop Fox, and it passed
overwhelmingly among the grassroots Democrats in attendance.
"I am glad and relieved that the Nevada Democratic leadership has come
to its senses," Coyle said in a statement. "Any kind of relationship
with Fox is bad for the party."
Initially, Senator Reid had defended the decision to work with Fox,
reasoning that it might help Democratic candidates reach out to
right-leaning Fox viewers. But party activists argued from the start
that any connection with Fox was a mistake.
Robert Greenwald, director of the movie Outfoxed, called the move a
"victory for truth and journalism." Some 280,000 people have viewed
Greenwald's new YouTube film "Fox Attacks: Obama" - located with the
petition at www.FoxAttacks.com. "By standing
up to Fox's right-wing smears," Greenwald said, "the patriotic
grassroots, Netroots, Senator Reid, Senator Edwards, and the Nevada
Democrats have all worked together to protect one of the most important
elements of a free society - the press."
And Eli Pariser, Executive Director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, said he
hoped the decision would "set a precedent within the party that Fox
should be treated as a right-wing mis-information network, not
legitimized as a neutral source of news."