Dems Snub Fox, Congressional Black Caucus Institute

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Apr 10, 2007 2:35 PM

Man, the Dems were in a tough position. Spurn eternal enemy of freedom Fox News or embrace eternal friend of the Democratic Party, the Congressional Black Caucus.

Turns out, hatred for Fox News trumps the black vote? Both Obama and Hillary have backed out of a CBC/Fox-sponsored debate. Edwards backed out last week.

A spokesman for Obama, who is a member of the Congressional BlackCaucus, told ABC News he would decline, saying "CNN seems to be a moreappropriate host."

Thing is, the Congressional Black Caucus is hosting four debates-- two Democratic and two Republican-- two of which would air on Fox and two of which would air on CNN. Seems a pretty smart move on the part of the CBC, capturing the two biggest audiences in cable news, and getting candidates in front of both more liberal CNN viewers and more conservative Fox viewers.

Having the Congressional Black Caucus as a co-sponsor with Fox would have given the candidates enough cover to agree to the debate without getting the full-on assault from the left side of the blogosphere. After all, the CBC can hardly be accused of right-wing hackery. But, you know what the Democratic candidates did? They decided the Netroots were more important to them than the Congressional Black Caucus.

Even Obama, one of the CBC's members, snubbed the debate, so as not to raise the hackles of the leftosphere's hacks. It is true that some black organizations and writers raised concerns about the Fox debate, but the back-down from this debate is almost exclusively a result of the Netroots' uproar about the Fox debate planned for this August in Nevada, which has since been canceled. And, the powerful Netroots are overwhelmingly made up of upper-class white males (a fact noted to me by an upper-class, white male member of the progressive blogosphere, by the way).

What is it Donna Brazile always says about Democrats taking the black vote for granted?

Update: Carol Hoenig calls Fox a "cancer on society" and says Edwards should stand up to it just as he and Elizabeth are standing up to her cancer. Lame metaphor aside, she actually makes a decent point about the fact that Democrats shouldn't back down from a Fox debate because they think the outfit is slanted. Instead, they should face the questions and show America just how slanted Fox News is.

This is where I part ways with her. Democrats should appear on Fox News-- that much is true-- but mostly because it has the biggest cable TV audience in the country. Both CNN's and Fox's audiences skew-- more liberal and more conservative, respectively-- but both audiences are full of a bunch of normal Americans who don't give a hoot about the Netroots' deep hatred for Fox and Fox's alleged assaults on democracy or the Right's annoyance with CNN and its terrorist-propaganda-airing tendencies. What they do care about is that CNN or Fox, whichever, is where they get the political news they're vaguely interested in, the news on how to keep their pets safe from kidney failure, and most importantly, the dish on who is Anna Nicole's baby daddy.

Those people are voters, and hence, well worth reaching for both parties. The fact that they don't care that CNN is viewed as a liberal mouthpiece or that Fox is seen as a Bush outlet means they are more likely to be those valuable swingy voters that politicians need the heck out of in a campaign season. Deciding not to appear on one network or the other cuts candidates off from numerous normal Americans who could conceivably be convinced to vote their way. Bad move on the Dems' part, I think, especially when the '04 election revealed that they're sorely in need of connecting with the Heartland, conservative voters Fox attracts.

But, hey, if Dems want to demonstrate their contempt for the large chunk of the normal American electorate that chooses to get its news from Fox in favor of the stridently liberal Netroots, I say go for it, guys.