Obama to Nix Fox Debate

By Jennifer Parker

Apr 9, 2007 3:52pm

ABC News’ Jake Tapper Reports: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, will be the second Democratic presidential candidate to boycott a proposed debate to be broadcast by Fox News Channel.

"CNN seems to be a more appropriate host," an Obama campaign aide tells ABC News.

Obama and Fox News Channel have had frosty relations ever since January, when the channel hyped and repeated untrue allegations that Obama had attended an extremist Islamist madrassa as a child living in Indonesia. (More on that here).

Former Sen. John Edwards, D-NC, was the first to formally boycott the Fox News debate, which is sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus, of which Obama is a member.

The debate is to be held on September 23 in Detroit.

Edwards deputy campaign manager Jonathan Prince said last week that "there’s just no reason for Democrats to give Fox a platform to advance the right-wing agenda while pretending they’re objective." 

Edwards had previously pulled out of a Fox debate planned by the Nevada Democratic Party, which ultimately — under pressure from liberal groups such as MoveOn.org, and liberal "netroots" internet activists — dropped Fox News Channel as a sponsor.

During that controversy, Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes criticized Edwards, though not by name.

"Any candidate for high office from either party who believes he can blacklist any news organization is making a terrible mistake about journalists," Ailes said at a Radio and Television News Directors Foundation dinner in Washington last month.

"Pressure groups are forcing candidates to conclude that the best strategy for journalists is divide and conquer, to only appear on those networks and venues that give them favorable coverage," Ailes said, adding that any candidate "who cannot answer direct, simple, even tough questions from any journalist runs a real risk of losing the voters."

But in that same address, Ailes joked about the similarity of Obama’s name with that of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, saying, "It’s true that Barack Obama is on the move. I don’t know if it’s true President Bush called [Pakistan President Pervez] Musharraf and said, ‘Why can’t we catch this guy?’ "

Obama has agreed to do the six debates sponsored by the Democratic National Committee as well as one in January sponsored by the CBC to be broadcast on CNN.

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