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Democrats Dismiss Fox News Debate

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What is the sound of one voice debating? We may find out this fall.

Yesterday, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson became the latest Democratic presidential candidates to decide that they will not participate in this fall's Fox News Channel debate, which is co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus.

According to the AP article:

The debate exodus began two months ago when John Edwards became the first candidate to announce that he would not attend the Sept. 23 debate in Detroit. A week later, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama announced they also would not participate.
This leaves only Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel as the candidates who haven't yet backed out of the event, making America rethink whether good things come in threes. Why are the candidates voluntarily withdrawing from a chance to get their message across to the largest prime-time audience in cable news? Pressure from two online organizations – ColorForChange and MoveOn – who accuse the "Fair and Balanced" news network of being "hostile to the interests of Black America."

While this reporter has been critical more than once of Fox News Channel's approach to broadcast journalism, this boycott effort seems counterproductive to the groups' goals. If they believe Fox News Channel treats them unfairly, why not take the opportunity to have their party's candidates appear on the network and say so, rather than allowing the purported campaign to continue unabated? When Bill Clinton went on Fox News Channel in 2006, his interview with Chris Wallace became a debate that ignited a public discussion of his administration's efforts to fight terrorism – and rallied the left. Why not use the same page from the playbook?

America's media landscape is already polarized enough. Partisans listen to their own radio shows, watch their own media outlets and generally seek out information that reinforces their political leanings. The Democratic presidential candidates are missing out on an opportunity to get their message out, confront the channel they view as a foe, and define themselves in their own words, rather than letting themselves be defined by what they see as Fox's mischaracterizations.

And besides, Fox News recently called Michael Moore's new movie "brilliant and uplifting." So you never know.

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