Dems caved to anti-Fox campaign 

Something strange happened to Democrats running for president between 2004 and 2007. Three years ago, they eagerly participated in nationally televised debates jointly hosted by Fox News and the Congressional Black Caucus. But in recent weeks, three of the most prominent Democrats seeking their party’s 2008 presidential nomination got a case of the political willies and withdrew from debates that again were to be co-hosted by Fox and the Congressional Black Caucus.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., withdrew from the Fox-Congressional Black Caucus event — but said they will participate in another debate co-hosted by the CBC and Fox’s main cable news competitor, CNN.

Aides to the candidates pleaded scheduling difficulties but it’s obvious that Clinton, Edwards and Obama caved to pressure from the Democratic Party’s left wing — aka the "Netroots" — especially the activist group Moveon.org, and Daily Kos and MyDD, two leading voices on the left side of the Blogosphere. Earlier this year, when Fox and the Nevada Democratic Party announced a debate for Democratic presidential candidates in the Silver State, the outraged Netroots launched a campaign demanding that Democrats boycott the event. The anti-Fox campaign continued after the Nevada event was cancelled.

As MyDD’s Matt Stoller explained: "This campaign didn’t happen because a few people were mad at Fox News. This is an organic argument from hundreds of thousands of Democrats who feel that validating Fox News and its partisan disinformation campaign as a neutral news outlet cuts against our core values."

Somewhere Richard Nixon is chuckling as Democrats adopt a media strategy that recalls his own. For Nixon, the way to respond to the mainstream media and its liberal bias was confrontation, led by Vice President Spiro Agnew’s "nattering nabobs of negativism" speech.

Democrats should rethink their daggers-drawn strategy lest they end up like Nixon, faced with a permanently hostile, alienated Fourth Estate whose members knew they would be around long after he departed.

Cooler heads advising the campaigning Democrats should remind them that Bill O’Reilly and Brit Hume operate in two different worlds. The former intentionally cultivates controversy with his strongly conservative opinions, while the latter anchors the evening news and participates on a Fox Sunday news discussion panel that includes such well-known members of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy as Mara Liason and Juan Williams of NPR. And Chris Wallace, host of the Fox Sunday talk show, is about as evenhanded as they come.

The advisers should also remind candidates that Fox has been killing CNN in the ratings for years, so why cut yourselves off from the larger audience? Campaigning against the media now will probably work about as well as it did for Nixon.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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