ACTION: Freeze Out Fox News

Cross Posted At Dailykos

In response to the growing disgust over their decision to partner with Fox News to host a Democratic presidential debate, the Nevada Democratic Party issued the following statement last night:
"FOX News' viewership in Western states and across the country does not always get to hear directly from Democrats in an unedited and uninterrupted fashion. The August debate in Reno will allow the Democratic Presidential candidates to speak to the Fox audience who may be hearing from them for the first time for ninety minutes unfiltered and directly."
Unfiltered, huh? Here are some "unfiltered"highlights from the last Fox News debate for Democratic presidential candidates:
[C]onsider the September 9, 2003 Democratic debate in Baltimore, Maryland, hosted by Fox News in partnership with the Congressional Black Caucus. Fox News graphics, as well as a banner over the stage, titled the event as the "Democrat Candidate Presidential Debate," a misconstruction of "Democrat" used as an an epithet. Fox News then summarized the debate with a story titled, "Democratic Candidates Offer Grim View of America," continuing with such jabs as, "The depiction of the president as the root of all evil began at the top of Tuesday night's debate...." Controversial questions included the accusation that Howard Dean had a racist gun policy by Fox News analyst Juan Williams. There were also multiple interruptions by protesters throughout the debate, leading to four arrests.
Insulting graphics, biased post-debate spin, loaded questions, conservative protesters--none of that sounds very "unfiltered" to me. Further, how much of the debate will Fox cut off entirely in order to have their in-house pundits offer negative commentary while the Democratic candidates are still speaking? Four years ago, in typically unfiltered fashion, Fox cut away from the Democratic debate they hosted a couple of minutes before it ended, in order to give arch-conservative William Bennett the first shot at post-debate spin. One also has to imagine what new ways Fox News can think of to distort the debate. For example, before it even takes place, it is not hard to imagine promotional ads along the lines of "watch to see which Democrat best remembers his Madrassa training!"

What particularly stuns me about the Nevada Democratic Party's decision here is that they first admit Fox News is biased against Democrats, and then use that as a justification for partnering with Fox News. If you believe, as the response from the Nevada Dems implies, that Fox News does not give Democrats a chance to speak in an "unfiltered" and "direct" fashion, then continuing to do business with them is entirely-self-defeating. All that does is lend Fox News, and their attacks against Democrats, credibility. At least Barack Obama and Howard Dean have both had the good sense to freeze out Fox News after they were smeared by the network. More Democrats should follow their lead, and stop shaking the hand that slaps them.

There are numerous outlets the Nevada Democratic Party could find to broadcast this debate besides Fox News: CNN, MSNBC, C-SPAN, or even live streaming video over the blogosphere. All of these outlets would provide the Democratic candidates with a much more "unfiltered" and "direct" platform to reach potential voters. Instead of providing Fox News with a means to reach a new audience--Democrats--and thereby stave off its slumping ratings, instead of giving them a golden opportunity to further distort the image of Democratic presidential candidates, and instead of providing them with credibility for all of their past and future attacks against Democrats, it would be best if the Nevada Democratic Party chose a different media partner to broadcast this debate.

In order to fight this, BlogPac has set up an email form that will allow you to contact several leading Nevada Democrats at once. Please, send an email to Nevada Democrats letting them know you oppose having Fox News host a presidential forum.

Tell Democrats to freeze out Fox News today. Remember, while we have provided you with a sample letter, a personalized email and subject header always helps.

Update: So far, over 3504507609201,1701,6501,900 people have taken the action! Let's keep going.

Blogpac Press Secretary

Blogpac needs a volunteer press secretary to communicate with the press.  If you are interested in helping out, send me an email at stoller at with some examples of your experience and why you think you'd do a good job.  We don't have any money so we can't pay you (or any of us on staff, actually).  Once we generate a reliable revenue stream that will change.

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This Isn't Over

Cross Posted on Dailykos

Both Democrats and the netroots won a big victory today when John Edwards refused to cave into the pressure of a right wing smear job. This was huge in several ways:
  1. The vast majority of established, beltway consultants would have told Edwards to fire Melissa and Amanda. By not doing so, it shows that he is capable of moving beyond tired, worn out advice. He is open to new ideas, including those coming from the netroots. We need more leaders like that.
  2. It sets a precedent for all other Democratic campaigns this cycle when it comes to right-wing smear jobs and swiftboating. Unlike in the past, it shows that Democrats don't have to cave, and are not ready to cave. Any other campaign in a similar situation will now be judged by the yardstick Edwards has laid down. At this point, caving will make you look very bad.
  3. Relative to the Republican Noise Machine dominated established news media, it increases the power of the netroots as a voice in the Democratic party. They listened to us, not to the establishment, and not to the right-wing. This will help build the movement, and free the Democratic Party from conservative Republican influence in our primaries. We are one step closer to choosing our leaders on our own.
Great victories indeed. I am so relieved for Amanda and Melissa. I am just as relieved for John Edwards, who I really did not want to write off my list of potential candidates to support in the primary. Now, I will happily identify myself as an Edwards supporter. The only way I could imagine that changing is if another candidate shows a superior ability to help grow the movement. While there are a few more with that potential, no one has really come to close stepping up yet.

Still, despite our victories, this is far from over. First, because he refused to cave to right-wing pressure and establishment campaign advice, Edwards will receive a significant amount of criticism. When this happens, we need to remember that he stood with us during this fight, and so we have to stand with him against the forthcoming attacks. This goes for everyone, whether or not you are an Edwards supporter. He didn't throw us under the bus, and so we can't let him get thrown under the bus, even--especially--if another Democratic campaign is trying to do the throwing.

Second, while Edwards did not cave into right-wing pressure, which was dutifully stenographed by the media, the power structure that allows Republicans to push any conceivable smear of Democrats and progressives into national focus is still fully operational. The current, bullshit attacks on Pelosi are a case in point. As such, it is time to turn our attention to how this story was reported on in the first place.

It is bitterly ironic that established news outlets are failed to provide context, do proper research, vet sources, and otherwise uphold basic standards of journalism on a story about bloggers. After all, bloggers often receive exactly the same criticisms from the established media. However, few people heard about William Donahue's long history of vicious religious intolerance--instead, they only heard that he was a Catholic who wanted Amanda and Melissa fired. Also, few people heard that John McCain's staff has been criticized for controversies far surpassing this--instead, most were given the impression that this was the first case of a blogger / campaign controversy. Others heard outright falsehoods about the story, such as the notion that Amanda tried to delete her past comments.

Now, it is time the media hears from you about this. BlogPac has set up a page where you can email the news organizations and reporters who acted as stenographers for the right-wing smear machine on this story. Take action, and contact them now. Tell them to do their jobs instead of being mega-phones for the Republican Noise Machine.

BlogPac Tuesdays

In November of 2005, I was posting occasional diaries at DailyKos that offered narrations of my calls to Hannity, Limbaugh and O'Reilly. After hearing my voice for the umpteenth time, David Grossman, the netroots coordinator at MediaMatters found me at DKos. He posted a comment in one of my diaries and we eventually met in person.  He turned out to be something of an angel...

As you know, most political blogs and websites either advocate for specific issues, support (or attack) political figures... or discuss electoral politics in general.  

But who's got our back? Who's advocating for us -- the netroots? Where are the websites specifically focused on supporting bloggers and activists? Who's developing ways for us to be even more effective next election cycle? Who's growing the movement?

There's more...

Blogpac/Actblue So Far... 84 95 and Counting...

UPDATE: Ok, we're up to 95, and that's around $1500 a month to fund local blogs and progressive activists. This money will go far, and I'm really excited to see what the netroots cooks up over the next few years. To be continued...

Over the course of two election cycles, Blogpac has raised $96,219.68.  That money has gone into independent campaigns, into work like 'Use it Or Lose It' prior to 2006, Drinking Liberally, Yearly Kos, Bluejersey, Do More Than Vote, and now, twelve local blogs.  

It's already working.  Lane Hudson, our first citizen hero in January and recipient of a $2k grant from all of you, now has temporary employment, and will probably do very well.  He's a real talent and will probably work as a great spokesperson for progressives for years.  George Stern, who ran Do More Than Vote in 2006, is now heading John Edwards' One Corps campaign which is coordinating chapter activities all over the country.  At 19, George is a better organizer than almost anyone I've ever met, and if you funded Blogpac, you helped him acquire the skills he's now using to generate and train more activists.

Local bloggers are doing incredibly well, far surpassing at this point the leverage that national blogs have.  The Albany Project, a community blog in New York, just organized a 'blograiser' for special election Senate candidate Craig Johnson with Eliot Spitzer, which raised over $100,000.  Dave Pollack, the new and amazingly dynamic New York state party co-Chair, was blown away, and if Johnson wins, it will utterly demolish the Republican Party in New York State for the next decade.

Blue Hampshire is keeping an eye on all the candidates as they swing through the Granite state.  They are great writers, and are serving as our critical eyes and ears in the early primary states.

So that's where your money has gone so far.  We're going to be launching more activist projects shortly, and expanding our list of local blog community spaces.  Hopefully we can get to 50 within the year.

Markos is a brilliant figure, someone who makes arguments that need to be made.  His insight in Crashing the Gate is that funding people, and not projects, is how to make the progressive movement work.  Blogpac is already generating an impressive alumni list, people who are transforming the country.  This is happening because the blogs and the internet left is independent of the pathetic web of dependencies corruping our political system; we don't have to pander, and we can stand for progressive values unapologetically.

Over the next few months, Blogpac has two big challenges.  One, we have to figure out how to democratize what we're doing.  We'll build not just a revenue stream for progressives, but one that works with democratic checks and balances.  We'll show single issue groups how to genuinely be progressive, and not just in their direct mail rhetoric.  This means that Chris and I, who control Blogpac, are going to be dramatically expanding the number of people who have input in decisions.  And ultimately it's going to mean that once we are channeling money to the progressive movement in significant quantities, we'll be holding regular and public elections so that there are checks and balances.

The second challenge is to build our membership.  There is tremendous strength in numbers.  Right now, progressive politics works through begging a small number of large donors and/or Foundations for capital.  As many in Democratic politics can tell you, that doesn't work for anyone but the large donors.  The blogs have already shown what can happen if we democratize media.  If we can break the stranglehold of large centralized institutions and a small donor elite, there's no telling where we can go.

Right now, 84 of you have pledged a recurring subscription every month to help support progressive infrastructure, which includes Blogpac, which funds activists and bloggers, and Actblue, which has democratized fundraising for Democrats.  A lot of candidates are going to ask you for money this cycle, and you should give to them.  My sense though is that it's not the politicians that make change, it's not the politicians that walked John Edwards back from his belligerent rhetoric on Iran.  It's activists who did it.  It's bloggers.  It's us.  Please support this aggressive type of politics. It's up to us to make this happen, to change this country.

Please join. You're going to be very very proud you did.

There's more...


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