There is a discussion across the blogosphere about John Edwards' decision to pull out of a debate co-sponsored by Fox News due to the channel's conservative slant, as reported by the Associated Press.
I agree that Fox News has an agenda, and the conservative slant is actually a forum for propaganda, but I'm not sure backing away is the correct approach. If Edwards, other candidates, and even those who aren't running for office, avoid Fox, it only gives the right-wing rhetoric spin-meisters another opportunity to spout their propaganda without being questioned. We do recall how former President Bill Clinton handled the interview with Chris Wallace. Clinton went into "their" territory and gave a new voice to where the dubious tagline "We Report ,You Decide" is a joke.
It was only weeks ago when John and Elizabeth Edwards held a news conference to announce that Elizabeth's cancer had returned. Prior to the announcement, there was speculation that Edwards was going to withdraw from the campaign--NBC even jumped the gun by reporting that was the case--but then, of course, we know what transpired. For days after, pundits were weighing in on the decision; some feeling it was a mistake while others thought it was an act of bravery. Each person, though, has to pull strength from his or her own resources and decide what's right for them, so without having firsthand experience, opinions were expressed on conjecture and little else. Nevertheless, I'm going out on a limb here to suggest that if Edwards is unwilling to yield to his wife's dreadful disease, with her support, then I ask, why not face the right-wingers with as much daring?
Of course Fox News is not objective by any stretch of the imagination, but participating in a debate where that could be made all the more evident might be a better tact to take. I understand that Edwards doesn't want to legitimize Fox's credibility; however, Fox does have a big audience and I wonder if perhaps they will see the Democrats refusal to participate in the debate as an act of cowardice; meeting them on their turf would give the Democrats an opportunity to show their mettle--something they desperately need to do.
True, Fox News president and former campaign adviser to notable Republicans, Roger Ailes, did give the Democratic Party reason to cancel a debate that had been scheduled in Reno for August 14th when he compared Barack Obama with Osama bin Laden. The comment showed Ailes as a humorless lowbrow. But is it really punishing Fox News if the Democrats decide not to participate in the debate or, rather, is it forfeiting an opportunity to show Americans just how biased the news channel is? During the time leading up to the Iraq war, few reporters were asking questions of the administration, some in fear of appearing unpatriotic. However, had they been resilient in doing so, it's possible that President Bush wouldn't have so easily won the country over and we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now. If anything, Edwards and his party should heed that lesson. It's time to take our country back.
Therefore, perhaps if Edwards looked at Fox News for what it is--a cancer on society--he wouldn't avoid it. Instead, he should approach Fox aggressively and make it clear that the democracy he believes in is not going to be destroyed any longer by some right wing rhetoric and, poised and ready, be willing to participate in the debate.