Politico is reporting that Nevada Democrats are dropping Fox News as the sponsor of their presidential debate scheduled for Aug. 14 in Reno. State party chairman Tom Collins and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D – NV) now claim that comments by Fox New president Roger Ailes at the Radio & TV News Directors Foundation 2007 First Amendment Leadership Award ceremony caused them to cancel Fox’s sponsorship of the debate. TVNewser has the full transcript of the speech. Ailes does speak to the controversy over the debates:
I feel compelled, however — on a serious note — to say a few words. We’re headed into covering a tough political season and all of us will be called upon to do our best and be fair. Recently 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.
There’s a long tradition of news organizations, national and local, sometimes together, sponsoring presidential and other candidate debates. The organizations and the panelists have been the objects of a lot of advice and even pressure as to how these debates should be conducted and what questions should be asked. This pressure has been successfully resisted, but it’s being tried again this year with the added wrinkle that candidates are being asked to boycott debates because certain groups wants to approve the sponsoring organizations. 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 about journalists. And any candidate of either party who cannot answer direct, simple, even tough questions from any journalist runs a real risk of losing the voters.
The public knows if a journalist’s question is unfair. They also know if a candidate is impeding freedom of speech and free press. If you are afraid of journalists, how will you face the real dangers in the world?
But that’s not the reason for Sen. Reid’s bizarre backslide. No, it was the fake newscast section of the speech…
Before I comment on the first amendment — I know it’s getting late, but forgive me, because I’ve had to add a couple of minutes here.
First of all, I was told I should do some headlines, so I’m only anchoring this, re-reporting. I think we all need to go very slow on this global warming thing. I realize saving energy is good, but I think it may be a trick to get our anchors to stop using blow dryers.
A man in France was arrested today for using his car to run down a pedestrian. He said he thought it was Osama bin Laden. Ok, it was a mistake, but it still ranks as France’s biggest military victory ever.
John Seigenthaler and I are the same age. Look at how he let himself go.
It is true that I said Britney Spears looked great at the Academy Awards. and I later found out it was Jack Nicholson.
It is true that just in the last two weeks Hillary Clinton has had over 200 phone calls telling her in order to win the presidency she must stay on the road for the next two years. It is not true they were all from Bill.
And it is true that Barack Obama is on the move. I don’t know if it’s true that President Bush called Musharraf and said, ‘Why can’t we catch this guy?’
For shame Roger Ailes, mocking the intelligence of President Bush like that – and kudos to Sen. Reid for battering Fox News for daring to make a throwaway joke at the President’s expense at an awards banquet… I mean isn’t it clearly obvious that it’s a joke about Bush being a bit of a dimwit?
Of course Sen. Reid apparently doesn’t understand jokes, since he now claims that Ailes playing off the Obama/Osama confusion (at a banquet where the serious and humorous are regularly mixed) is an unpardonable sin. In Reid’s fantasy world Ailes compared Sen. Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden. Sen. Kennedy wasn’t even drunk when he made that association, and CNN actually broadcast it earlier this year.
No the real hero’s of the day are the Las Vegas Review Journal who lay a mighty smack-down on the the Nevada Democrats capitulation to the nutroots now running the Democratic party…