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December 13, 2007


To the Editor, Des Moines Register, letters@dmreg.com:

As a journalist who has covered politics for three decades, I was Des_moines_register_logoappalled to discover that you had excluded both Congressman Dennis Kucinich and former Senator Mike Gravel from your presidential debate when I tuned into it today.

Your rationale for so doing -- that neither man had an office in the state -- amounts to a monetary test of the worth of a candidate and of that candidate's ideas. Yet, in excluding these two men from the debate, you have eliminated the two candidates who most clearly and unambiguously express the views of the many voters in the left wing of the Democratic Party.

Dennis_kucinich At the same time, yesterday you accorded a place in the RepublicanMike_gravel  debate you sponsored to a candidate infinitely more marginal than either Kucinich (left) or Gravel (right) -- both of whom have held high public office -- although Alan Keyes, who refuses to discuss the real issues in this campaign and answers every question with a formulaic religious response, has never been elected to anything in the several states in which he has presented himself before the voters for Senate. Can you really pretend that the exclusion of Kucinich and Gravel is fair, and not arbitrary and discriminatory, when you include Keyes?

All the nation is watching Iowa and its caucuses. You are not running some little local debate for which arcane local criteria should be used to impose a "means test" as to who can participate. Your amputated debate deprives Kucinich and Gravel of a chance to present their ideas to the viewers of CNN, MSNBC, and C-SPAN, all of which are airing the debate for a national audience. Moreover, as the last debate before the Iowa caucuses, this may be the best-watched debate nationally so far.

Your action in excluding Kucinish and Gravel was also a particular slap in the face to millions and millions of lesbian and gay Americans across the country, including in Iowa, for they are the only two candidates to support full marriage equality for same-sex couples.

By denying the opportunity to speak to Kucinich and Gravel, you disenfranchise the two candidates' supporters across the country, sharply curtail the range of views and ideas available to all U.S. voters in the national TV audience, truncate the debate of ideas, skew the debate to the right, betray fundamental democratic principles, and deny the right to equal access by candidates to the public's airwaves.

You should be ashamed of yourselves.


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Posted by: sheathPrerbgbf | Mar 29, 2008 12:20:21 AM

Doug -- I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for this post -- there was a lot of protest about this. Linked to The Hankster

Posted by: Nancy Hanks | Dec 16, 2007 4:10:55 PM

This hardcore Ron Paul supporter is pissy over the shenanigans in this debate. I know what it's like to support an idea and candidate that may not (yet) be popularly considered "top tier". Crap like exclusion from debates turns frustration in to anger for those who already support the candidate; shameful, however, is the consequence of lessening equality of diversity -- the loser: Americans.

In all honesty I'm not _sure_ what the official explanation for the exclusions are. Last I heard Gravel and Kucinich have their "papers" in order to run for the office of President. I admit I have far from the entire story pieced together, but what the hell does it matter if a candidate has a paid staffer or an office in the state?

With no smile on my face I realize a private entity can invite or exclude whomever they want for any reason. However, if activities and explanations of activities of a product that claims to be a "news paper" are so distant from the reasonable definition and expectations of a "news paper", it seems a lot like false advertisement. At this point, the Des Moines Register is a newsletter.

Posted by: mike | Dec 16, 2007 5:11:11 AM

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