Kucinich Challenges ABC News:

On Friday, Rep. Dennis Kucinich filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission challenging ABCNews' decision to exclude him from last night's presidential debate.

Kucinich argued that ABC is violating equal-time provisions by keeping him out of the debate and noted that ABC's parent Walt Disney Co. had contributed to campaigns involving the four Democrats who were invited.

"ABC should not be the first primary," the Ohio congressman said in papers filed at the Federal Communications Commission.

ABC said the candidates left out of the debates failed to meet benchmarks for their support that were outlined to each campaign prior to the Iowa caucus. Kucinich did not complain about these rules ahead of time, said spokeswoman Cathie Levine, who had no further comment since she hasn't seen the FCC filing.

The petition did not accomplish much, as the debate went ahead without Kucinich. In any event, it is very difficult to argue that pre-set qualification rules, such as those employed by ABCNews, somehow violate equal-time rules.

Jonathan F.:
I guess that depends how long before the debate those rules were "pre-set," and how unreasonable or manipulated they seem to be. I suppose you could have a rule that any candidate polling above 15% or below 13% nationally will be in the debate, but if you set it the day before the debate and there's someone at 14%, that will look pretty bad.
1.6.2008 12:08pm
This is something that Dennis really needs!
1.6.2008 6:25pm
You don't try to impeach war criminal and get away with it. There got to be some punishment our fourth branch can bring against unruly congressman.
1.6.2008 6:26pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Actually, one argument the Kuciniches of the world might have is that the rules get waived when they want a particular candidate IN the debate. So they aren't hard and fast but rather are excuses to keep out whatever minor candidate they are afraid of. (See also Ron Paul.)

That said, nobody has a right to participate in anything. If ABC wants to put certain people on the stage and not other people, that's their call. And in truth, putting too many people on the stage reduces the possibility of a good substantive debate, because there are strict limits imposed on each candidate's ability to talk.

And I say this as someone with a lot of sympathy for Kucinich's positions on the merits.
1.6.2008 8:16pm
Paul Karl Lukacs (mail) (www):
Many countries have a similar policy that denies media access to political parties which control less than 51% of the seats in Parliament.
1.6.2008 9:39pm
KeithK (mail):
I agree with Dilan that no one has a right to participate in anything. But couldn't some choices be construed as a contribution to some candidates? Let's say ABC only wanted to put Obama and Clinton on the stage saying that this made for the most useful debate for viewers. Edwards could reasonably say this was free advertising for Obama and Clinton. Sure there's a media exemption to campaign finance rules but when does it cross the line?

Personally I think ABC and other media outlets should have an unfettered right to do what it wants. But then I think George Soros and Rupert Murdoch each have a right to write a $100 million check to finance a candidate's campaign.
1.7.2008 1:56pm
dwlawson (www):

This is something that Dennis really needs!

I'm certainly no Kucinich fan and I don't believe that space aliens have visited, but I don't care for how much flack people have given him over his stating he saw a UFO.

Does no one know what UFO means? It doesn't necessarily mean space alien. It simply means you saw something flying in the air that you couldn't identify.

His statement is perfectly accurate and no indicator of whether he is a UFO kook or simply just a bit smarter than the average political commentator.
1.7.2008 8:11pm