Why is Dennis Kucinich Undermining Progressives and African Americans and Embracing Fox News?
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Going against the grain of many progressive voters thought to be among his potential supporters, Cleveland area Congressman Dennis Kucinich has decided to join Delaware Senator Joe Biden as the only Democratic presidential candidates planning to attend a September debate that Fox News intend to hold in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus.
Kucinich said: "... for Sens. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama to skip the debate simply because it was to be broadcast on Fox was a snub of the Congressional Black Caucus." He added: "Those candidates planning to skip this debate clearly are trying to avoid a forum where there will be hard-hitting questions from people who may not agree with them."
James Rucker, head of the on-line group The Color of Change, who along with MoveOn and others has been leading the campaign challenging Fox News' legitimacy as a news organization, responded, "If Congressman Kucinich actually paid any attention to what African-Americans are saying about the Fox debate, he'd know better than to accuse the leading candidates of snubbing black voters. Refusing to attend this debate isn't about avoiding an unfriendly forum, it's about refusing to lend further legitimacy to a network that regularly distorts the truth and attacks black leaders, institutions, culture, and black people in general."
Rucker added: "If Kucinich wants to help legitimize a race-baiting propaganda network, that's his business, but he shouldn't claim black voters are on his side. Rather, this is a cynical political ploy to get press attention and airtime."
In a press release from May 27th, Kucinich said, "This (boycott of the debate) is particularly troublesome because the concerns of African Americans should take precedent over what network is broadcasting the debate." The irony here is that many Black voters despise Fox, namely its coverage of racial issues. Two videos produced by Brave New Films and Robert Greenwald have documented Fox's attitudes about race and, particularly, candidate Barack Obama. These videos have been viewed by many hundreds of thousands of people on YouTube and sparked spirited debates.
To many observers it seems that Fox is using its partnership with the Congressional Black Caucus -- one where Fox has made considerable financial contributions because it allows them to claim they're sensitive to the concerns of African-Americans, while continuing to broadcast bigoted views on race issues. It certainly can be argued that leading candidates have shown respect for black voters by refusing to attend this debate.
It remains to be seen whether the Fox Debate actually happens. The debate is scheduled to be held in the Detroit District of Congresswomen Carolyn Kilpatrick, currently the chairperson of the CBC, who along with Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, are the two most vocal supporters of the debate from the Caucus. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, from Los Angeles, a CBC member who is also prominent in the congressional Progressive Caucus, where Kucinich is a leading member, was quoted in the New York Times as being against the FOX-CBC Partnership. Neither Waters nor another CBC member, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, from Berkeley, frequently seen as one of the most principled members of Congress, signed the letter from the CBC asking for presidential candidates to attend the Fox debate.
Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.