Thursday, October 25, 2007

NBC Makes Up Arbitrary Rules To Bar Mike Gravel From October 30 Debate In Philadelphia

The news item excerpted below was published by the Associated Press on Friday, October 19, 2007, and would have been warmly received by Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and the people running their campaigns:

Gravel fails to meet rules for Democratic debate
Mike Gravel will not be part of the next Democratic presidential debate, Oct. 30 in Philadelphia.

The former Alaska senator did not meet fundraising and polling requirements for the forum, said NBC News political director Chuck Todd.

The two-hour debate, sponsored by NBC News and the Democratic National Committee, will be telecast on MSNBC. Brian Williams will moderate.

All the other Democratic candidates are expecting to participate, including Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd; former Sen. John Edwards; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
But it hasn't been warmly received by Mike Gravel. Here, via the Huffington Post, is his response:

Why NBC and the DNC Want Me Out of the Debates
In the past year, I have attended 11 national Democratic debates of which two were sponsored by corporate media giant NBC. However, last week, the network suddenly conjured up arbitrary polling and fundraising requirements specifically designed to exclude me. None of the previous debates I attended held such requirements.

When my staff called NBC directly to find out why I was now barred from attending, Chuck Todd, NBC news' political director, told us that there were three criteria we did not meet, namely that I had not campaigned in New Hampshire and/or Iowa at least 14 times in the past year, that I was not polling at 5% and that I hadn't raised $1 million.

It is abundantly clear that NBC just wants me out of the race. This was made evident by the fact that NBC did not even inform me of its arbitrary criteria before making the decision to stifle my campaign. NBC's Todd waited until 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, to inform my staff that I was not invited to the Oct. 30 debate at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Since I announced my candidacy for the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States on April 17, 2006, I have certainly traveled to New Hampshire and Iowa at least 14 times. And, according to a recent CNN poll, I am tied with Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich and Chris Dodd.

NBC claims I haven't raised enough money to qualify. I'm proud of the fact that I don't collect millions from special interests (or fugitives like Norman Hsu). The reason why Senator Hillary Clinton seems to have a fundraising scandal every month is because money has corrupted our democracy. By stifling my voice on the basis of fundraising dollars, NBC is reinforcing the power of money over our national political discussion and our freedom.

But why has NBC suddenly come up with "requirements" designed to exclude me from the debate?

NBC's decision is proof that our corporate media do not want a genuine debate over our impending war with Iran. During the last debate I was the only one to aggressively confront Senator Clinton over her vote to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Had I not brought up the subject, seasoned NBC commentator Tim Russert, the moderator of the Sept. 26 debate, would not have even asked about it.

Most Americans still don't appreciate the gravity of that vote and they don't understand that our government is intentionally raising roadblocks to diplomacy. Corporate media have once again failed to investigate how Bush and a compliant congress have set us on the warpath. Instead the media simply parrots the demonization of Iranian President Ahmadinejad and the administration's unproven accusations against Iran. NBC and the other corporate media have jumped on the war bandwagon and they are determined to shut up anyone who tries to stop it.

The fact that NBC is owned by General Electric, one of the world's leading military contractors, is frightening and certainly smacks of censorship directed at the most outspoken critic of the influence that the military-industrial complex holds over this great nation. In the past decade, GE has benefited financially from the global war on terrorism and currently holds almost $2 billion in military contracts.

So I ask that anyone, who is as concerned as I am about the power of the mainstream media and the military-industrial complex, speak out in support of my campaign today. And, even if you support another candidate, surely you understand the implications of NBC's decision for our democracy and the future peace and security of our nation.

And since the powers that be now require that I raise $1 million in order to participate in the debates, please make a donation to my campaign. Unlike my fellow candidates, I am not focused on raising million of dollars; I am focused on fixing representative government. Help us reach that arbitrary threshold, and I will continue to fight for democracy and peace.

Senator Mike Gravel
Ain't that a kick?

Here, courtesy of Village Green, are some things you can do about it:

1. Sign the online petition to have Mike Gravel included in the debate!

2. Contact NBC and GE and tell them they are wrong for trying to stifle his campaign!

Here are the email addresses: you can copy and paste them into your "TO:" field of your email:,,,,,,
3. Email the DNC and urge them to press NBC to allow Mike Gravel to participate in the debate.

Here's another idea:

4. Write to Dr. Constantine Papadakis, the President of Drexel University, and ask the same of him.
One final note: See what John Edwards has to say about this:
It is essential, in a Democracy, for all voices to be heard. We should continue to attempt to adhere to this Democratic ideal.

So please contact the DNC and MSNBC today about Mike Gravel's exclusion. And, please, spread the word about this.
Please note that this is the very same John Edwards who said in July:
"We should think about at some point ... maybe some time in the fall, we'll try to have a more serious debate with a smaller group of people."
What's the difference between then and now? He didn't know his mic was on then.