Thursday, March 08, 2007


CBS - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards won't participate in a debate co-hosted by Fox News and the Nevada Democratic Party, his campaign said, as party officials tried to settle a dustup over their partnership with the cable network. Edwards' campaign said the involvement of Fox News, which is often accused by liberals of having a conservative bias, was part of the decision to pass on the Aug. 14 debate in Reno. . . The two Democratic presidential frontrunners, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, have not indicated whether they will attend the Nevada debate. . . Move On Civic Action says it has collected more than 260,000 signatures on a petition that calls the cable network a "mouthpiece for the Republican Party, not a legitimate news channel.". . . Democratic Party officials and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid initially touted the partnership with Fox News as an opportunity to reach out to a different bloc of voters.

But in a letter posted Wednesday on the party's Web site, Democratic Party Chairman Tom Collins said Reid now shares activists' concerns and "has asked us to take another look." Collins said the party would invite a "local progressive voice" to participate on the debate panel, which also would include a reporter from a local Fox affiliate, a national Fox News reporter and the moderator.

SAM SMITH - The Edwards reaction, apparently motivated in part by the self-righteous lot at Move On, demonstrates one of the reasons the Democrats don't do better. You can't win a fight if you refuse to get in the ring. As one of the few who has appeared on Pacifica, NPR and the Bill O'Reilly Show, your editor learned that long ago. Admittedly, you've got to know your moves, among which I would include these:

- Keep smiling. The right-wing hosts want to get you mad. Just don't. It throws them off their pace.

- Find something they can agree on or something you have in common. Before my appearance on the O'Reilly Factor, I mentioned to the host that my granddaughter was growing up about 20 miles from his hometown on Long Island. He immediately become friendlier. In the 1990s, I was worried about a book related appearance on a Idaho radio station in the heart of Mark Fuhrman country. Then in his introduction, the host mentioned that I was a supporter of jury nullification, an issue that has fans on both the left and the right. When I heard that, I knew I was home free. Just one sentence in the book had saved me from being stereotyped. The interview, originally scheduled for 20 minutes, went on for an hour.

- Help people move from their pet issues to others they haven't thought much about. I once did a talk show in Michigan militia territory. I used some lines about gays not being the ones who take your pensions and feminists not shortchanging your health care. Some guy calls in and says, "You know this fellow from Washington has a point. We have to stop worrying so much about those gays and women and worry more about the corporations." It taught me not to give up on people.

Part of the problem is that many on the left and the right approach the other side as solders against an enemy or lawyers in a trial rather than as teachers or organizers. Its not a good approach because if you can't change the hearts and minds of some of those watching on Fox, you're probably going to lose the race. Put a smile on your face, some facts in your mouth and give it a try.