Thursday, March 08, 2007

Enabling vs. Engaging

The Nevada Democratic Party leadership recently organized a presidential debate to be hosted by Fox News. On the one hand it's good to engage the opposition, on the other hand it's bad to assist Fox News in pretending that it's a real news channel providing an alternate point of view rather than a house organ of the opposition party which is focused only on reelecting people with an "R" next to their name.

Am I being fair in my description? No?

The different candidates have responded to the uproar with Edwards pulling out of the debate all together:
Edwards: No

Richardson: Yes

Obama: Decision will be made within the week

Clinton: Too early to make a decision

Dodd: They haven't decided yet

Biden: No response
Certain Nevada Democratic groups have also come out against it:
WHEREAS, Fox News is not a neutral source of news - it's a right-wing mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh that smears Democrats and spreads blatantly false information; and

WHEREAS, Democrats granting Fox News the illusion of credibility would allow Fox to more easily "swiftboat" our 2008 candidates by pushing false Republican attacks into the mainstream media; and

WHEREAS, everyone supports reaching out to new people, but 1 day of Fox coverage is not worth legitimizing Fox's misinformation the other 364 days a year; and

WHEREAS, plenty of better alternatives exist to Fox News - in Nevada, MSNBC plus its NBC affiliates, for example, get approximately double the viewers of Fox cable plus its local affiliates; and

WHEREAS, we believe that Democrats need to fight back against Fox News and the right-wing smear machine in the 2008 election cycle--not enable it.

BE IT RESOLVED, the Carson City Democratic Central Committee opposes the proposal to let Fox News host a Democratic presidential debate and strongly urges the Nevada Democratic Party to drop that proposal.
Personally, I don't think Democrats should be treating Fox like a real news channel. Engagement is good, but Fox News doesn't offer that. It doesn't offer good-faith debate and consequently offers little to challenge the preconceived notions of liberals.


Kevin said...

We're not talking to Fox News. We're talking to the people who watch Fox News. It's a form of subversion and counter-media, not a form of submission. Republicans do this all the time by demanding equal time on PBS, or the NYT, or CNN. It's paid big dividends to them. It's time Democrats do the same. And who better to talk to but people that are not currently voting for Democrats? Appearing on PBS or whatever is just flock-preaching.

Taking the longer view, I think not-engaging is the kind of avoidance policy I don't want voters to see. It smacks of running away. It says that there's no chance of winning over Fox viewers. Even if Fox attacks, you gain respect and toughness by standing up for yourself. You learn how to fight the opposition. You learn how to speak to marginal Republicans.

The only downside is the odd argument against 'legitimizing' Fox News as a news outlet. What? Of course it's an outlet. An important one. Yes, it's biased, so what? We are all of us biased to some extent. There are no "legitimate" news outlets anymore, there is only the task of navigating it to reach voters.

Tommaso Sciortino said...

If Fox news was offering a fair debate format wherein the viewers of Fox News got a chance to compare and contrast the various positions of the Democrats and Fox News that would be one thing, instead what's being offered is a debate sure to be hosted in an extremely unfair way which runs a good chance of no helping anyone understand anything.

At any rate the debate was called off after Richardson pulled out.