let kucinich speak

Posted on January 15, 2008

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It is a sad state of affairs when the court has to step in to decree that NBC News, which is holding a televised political debate on MSNBC in Nevada tomorrow for Democratic presidential hopefuls, allow long-shot candidate Dennis Kucinich his chance to appear at the debate.

It is even sadder that the network has said it would appeal the judge’s ruling, rather than allow Kucinich the opportunity to get some air time.

Senior Clark County District Court Judge Charles Thompson had ruled that Ohio congressman Kucinich be allowed to take part in the televised debates. Thompson said he would issue an injunction to stop the debate if the network didn’t allow Kucinich to participate.

Kucinich has two percent of support nationwide, according to the latest ABC News poll.

The judge has it right, calling it a “matter of fairness” to allow Kucinich a chance to take part. After all, why should a candidate be deprived of providing a different point of view, no matter how unlikely he is to win his party’s nomination?

The media continues in its high-handed and elitist manner, deciding who the “electable” candidates are and snubbing those they have deemed as unlikely eventual winners. While Kucinich’s chances are realistically low, what makes MSNBC think they could override Americans’ right to decide on their presidential candidates? Why should the network’s favorites, and bias, be imposed upon the voting public?

The race has barely started and it’s early days yet. To stem further erosion of its credibility with the public, the media ought to refrain from so blatantly drawing their snide little conclusions on whom they think is going to win or write anyone off prematurely. Remember the Clinton-New Hampshire debacle, media folks? Have you already forgotten the feel of the eggs on your faces?

The freedom of the press is a right and NBC could argue that it has the prerogative to decide who it allows onto their shows or not, especially since it is a public company. But it really should remember that freedom of speech is the bedrock of this nation. NBC News owes it to its audience to have as broad a spectrum of opinions aired as possible, or in this case, to allow all the contenders, to voice their opinions, no matter how marginal or kooky they might be. Voters should be allowed to see every contender in action, hear their stands on various issues, and debate their beliefs.

Too many potential voters still do not know or are uncertain about the various candidates’ positions on the issues that matter to them. The electoral process would be even more of a farce if the media insists on deciding who the next Democratic or Republican nominee ought to be, way in advance. Voters would be deprived of the chance to know each candidate and his or her stand better before the nomination is sewn up.

The public deserves to hear alternative views and the “little” guy, no matter how little. Let the public decide for itself.

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Posted in: politics, US