23 October, 2007

NBC Bars Mike Gravel from Attending Debate

At the last second, NBC has set up new arbitrary requirements for entering the 30 October democratic presidential debate and informed Mike Gravel that because he did not meet these requirements, he would be barred from the debate. These new requirements were arbitrarily chosen specifically to bar Mike Gravel from participating in the debate.
Furthermore, they enacted these new requirements at the very last moment, so as to ensure that Gravel could not possibly meet the requirements on time. This isn't right; it's a clear example of a giant news media corporation deciding on their own who should hear which candidates. If General Electric (who owns NBC) were doing this to Ron Paul, then you can be sure the internet hordes would flock to his support. But it is just as wrong for this to be happening to Mike Gravel, so I hope that all of you reading this will sign the petition to include Mike Gravel in this debate!
[ http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/letgravelspeakoct30 ]
If you really feel strongly about this, then you should also flood the e-mail of execs at NBC that are behind this fiasco. You can send any upset mail to [ chuck.todd@nbcuni.com, viewerservices@msnbc.com, directors@corporate.ge.com, ombudsperson@corporate.ge.com, jeff.zucker@nbcuni.com, lynn.calpeter@nbcuni.com, steve.capus@nbcuni.com ]. You should also e-mail the DNC to let them know how you feel about this outrage: [ http://www.democrats.org/page/s/contact ].
For the record, the new arbitrary requirements NBC decided to enforce are:
  • Campaign in Iowa/New Hampshire at least 4 times
  • Polling at at least 5%
  • Raise $1 Million
Although NBC claims he has not met all three new requirements, in fact Gravel HAS campaigned well over 14 times in those states since he declared his candidacy in April '06, and a recent CNN poll puts him tied with Biden, Kucinich, and Dodd.
In fact, the only criterion he has not yet met is the $1 million raised; but Gravel is proud of the fact that he doesn't accept money from special interests. In Mike Gravel's own words: "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."
Furthermore, it is quite clear why NBC is doing this to Gravel. GE, who owns NBC, is one of the world's leading military contractors. They hold over $2 Billion in military contracts right now. If it weren't for Gravel bringing up the vote to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization in the last debate, no one would have even been aware of the gravity of such an event occurring in our Senate.
We NEED Mike Gravel. That's why I urge you all to sign this petition, whether you plan to vote for Gravel or not.
[ http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/letgravelspeakoct30 ]
Update: The money restriction was just solved! Apparently, a Gravel supporter with a lot of cash on hand decided to pay $1,000,000 if NBC would just let Gravel speak a the debate!


  1. From Chuck D Todd of NBC Universal:

    "Thanks for your email. As you may already know, no network has given Sen. Gravel more opportunity to get his message across than NBC and its affiliates via both interviews and debates. But with the election season beginning in just 72 days and more candidates trying to get into our debates, we believed it was necessary to have some minimum standards. Leaders and activists from both parties believe our requirements are very fair. Unfortunately, Sen. Gravel did not meet those minimum requirements. The standards we used included measuring the amount of time the senator spent campaigning as well as poll standing and financial resources."

    It's bad enough that the PDC doesn't even allow third party debates!

  2. It's about the proper time for this to happen. Gravel has now had a reasonable opportunity to attempt to influence the greater discussion (as well as, of course, take his shot at the white house). If by now a candidate has not raised $1 million dollars, they are not a serious candidate. When it comes down to it, campaign contributions, while not ideal, are the best metric available for measuring popular support at this point in the campaign; the amount raised reflects not only special interest groups, but the general publics' as well.

  3. Lets see, Ron Paul, Q3 money on hand; 5.4 Million Dollars. Mike Gravel Q3 money on hand; 0.017 Million Dollars. That's 17 thousand dollars folks. I don't see the correlation, do you?

  4. The man is running for president. We are more then a year away from the election. They will disregard him because they can, and no one will hold them accountable. The same reason they can put Ron Paul, the only one with a unique message, winner of all their polls, and receiver of more then half of the total contributions from the military, on the end, ask him complex questions, and then actually enforce the 30 second answer period, and then immediately allow Rudy to retort, and explain why he was laughing like a jackass through it... meanwhile, Thompson, whose only reason for running can only be that he will have different owners then Rudy McRomney, says the same shit as the rest of them, and after just becoming a candidate is put right in the middle where they go to him every other question, and open & close the show with him. It's because they can. Sure, it's a pain in the ass that we have to complain, and demand that our "news" outlets actually report the news, rather then spread propaganda. I don't want to complain about the exclusion of Gravel, well, because I am lazy, and my activism is normally reserved for pro-liberty causes. However, at least for me, this hits home, because for as long as I've cared, I've put up with my candidates being assaulted, and turned away from "debates" knowing that if they were actual debates, and not advertisements, they would really offer the people something.

    I personally don't think that there is much hope for someone like Gravel, who might normally get some support. Despite a lot of Gravel's socialist ideas that seem to be so popular these days, it seems to me that Ron Paul is really getting all the "disenfranchised" support. He shouldn't be ignored, though, and I will do what I can so that he hopefully isn't.

  5. OK I just read the blog and I am more than a little confused by the first requirement put forth by NBC. "campaign in Iowa/New Hampshire at least 4 times? That sounds a little too specific to be taken seriously. I'm also somewhat confused by the fact that NBC has so much power that they can bar a candidate from attending the debates. Sure they're covering it, but there are other networks that can step in if NBC boycotts. Anyone that knows me knows that I'm not big on politics (so if I'm wrong in any way about these statements, please correct me) but it seems disheartening that the future leaders of this country have to meet random standards set forth on a whim by a television network in order to campaign.

  6. Shame on NBC. I would have expected this kind of nonsense from FOX or CNN, but not from NBC. This is censorship by omission. Terrible

  7. signed the petition

    All candidates should have an opportunity to be in the debate.

    Those of us who love Ron Paul's message should support this.

    This is not about Red/Blue but about Liberty.

    Ron Paul Supporter.

  8. To be honest I'm not suprised. I've seen this trend in the media for years where they cite some random poll, then proceed to push their own candidate(s) by deciding who and how to give airtime. This only got worse with the latest wave of punditry and fusion of news/entertainment/ratings. What is a "front runner"? Who decides? Is it Hillary/Obama/Edwards or Guiliani/Paul/Huckaby for each party? Funny, I have yet to see a single vote cast.

    Campaign fundraising is only one metric that they have arbitrarily decided to use. Heck, I wonder how much money GE has put in each of the respective candidates' pockets. Money has truly invaded our democracy and is threatening to destroy it for good. Ideally, only their views/policies should matter, and the media should be balanced enough to leave to us citizens the right to decide who REALLY comes out on top. They are yet another corporate special interest. No different from the military contractors, manufacturers, etc. The only difference is that they control what we see and hear on television/radio for the most part and most people haven't woken up to see that yet. Sigh.

    But on another note I'm not too familiar with Gravel's positions. Perhaps he warrants another look. I haven't had the time yet to research all the candidates' positions, but only about half. I know who I do NOT want, but this far out I have plenty of time to make up my mind. Thanks for bringing this to light though.

  9. I respect your enthusiasm on this issue, and I agree that NBC was wrong to require the fundraising benchmark at such short notice.

    However, to play devil's (NBC's) advocate for a bit . . .

    Gravel seems to have some interesting ideas, but he doesn't seem to have a strong shot at securing the DNC's nomination. This is partially due to his reluctance to actively seek large campaign contributions from wealthy special interests, and partly due to his pointed criticisms of prominent Democrats. The Republican party has a powerful campaign spin machine, and it will require a lot of money for Gravel to get his message through it. Without the DNC endorsement, his election just won't happen.

    There's another issue to consider as well. Political parties tend to reduce the differences between politicians. Even if Gravel could win the presidency, his ability to push through an agenda would be limited by the extent he could secure congressional support, and his congressional support would be limited by the willingness of the parties to support politicians who support Gravel.

    There is no way to justify the way in which NBC prevented Gravel from participation in the debate, but doesn't his absence mean that the other candidates will have more time to explain their platforms to potential voters? Doesn't this, in turn, mean that a candidate who can accomplish roughly what Gravel would have accomplished in office has a better chance of being elected without Gravel in the debate?

    I have taken the time to look at some of Gravel's positions, and he does have some interesting ones (although I think his 'fair tax' plan is somewhat unfeasable due to constitutional hurdles, and I'm not sure how his health care system would prevent the denial of "vouchers" for neccesary treatments). I respect the work his campaign has done to bring the issues he discusses to the national stage, and I regret that his absence at the Oct 30 debate may cause some of these ideas to go unsaid. However, NBC has stated that over 135 individuals are seeking the Democrat nomination, and the fact that he has raised less than $1 million in campaign funds does not suggest that his presence in the debate would have had a strong impact on his viability as a candidate, anyway.

  10. He's the Ron Paul of the Democrat party!

  11. I can understand the fundraising, but what about the first requirement? Campaign in Iowa 4 times? What is the rationale there?

  12. Given all that has been said, i think the bottom line is that Gravel is questioning the status quo too much for NBC and all the other acronyms who currently control the United States political arena.
    I think the same can be said for Kucinich. Although he is in the mainstream as far as being in on major debates, he has no chance of becoming president because he does not seek the blessings of the corporate world. at least not as much as the Republican and Democratic "vanguard".

  13. Yeah, I hate to admit it, but I did actually like Kucinich. If I were to choose a democratic candidate thus far, it would probably be him. However, he has no chance of winning. It isn't that a lot of people don't agree with him, quite the opposite in fact. Issue by issue, he probably has more supporters than the "frontrunners", but everybody cringes when they think of him as POTUS. (President of the United States) I think we still have a little bit of that Kennedy-Nixon mentality going on here. Everybody gets their info more from the TV than anywhere else. During the Kennedy/Nixon debate (the first televised presidential debate), most people who listened to the debate would say Nixon came out as the stronger party, while those who watched it said the opposite. Nixon had quite the 5pm shadow that day. Basically, it boiled down to appearances, not issues.

    From the wikipedia article,
    "In the first of four televised debates, Kennedy not only looked better physically, he also came off as polished, articulate and mature. The performance dispelled many people's worries that the young senator was too inexperienced to be President. Nixon, for his part, was recovering from an illness, and, with the stubble on his face visible, looked unimpressive. (Nixon's performance in the debate was perceived to be mediocre only in the visual medium of television, though; many people listening on the radio considered that Nixon had won)."

  14. Another point about Nixon's appearance was that he was wearing a brown coat which on a black and white TV looked dirty and very old fashioned, while Kennedy wore a navy blue coat which appeared closer to black on screen and looked much more modern and professional. I know this doesn't have anything to do with the main topic of this thread, but it's a piece of trivia you can use to show off if that example ever comes up again.

  15. "I can understand the fundraising, but what about the first requirement? Campaign in Iowa 4 times? What is the rationale there?"
    The rationale is that the Iowa caucus is considered the proving ground for presidential candidates. While I'll concede that four times is an arbitrary numerical selection, the Iowa requirement makes sense. Barring a miracle, if a candidate doesn't campaign in Iowa, they can kiss either party's official nomination goodbye. Sadly, this is all a commentary on how expensive and difficult to mount a presidential campaign is these days. The sheer amount of money required these days (I used to have a lot of statistics on this; I did a paper on post-Watergate campaign finance reform) to run a successful campaign is staggering: since the Reagan era, presidents have spent less time actually running the country than they have fundraising for re-election.
    Similarly, RedState.com, a bloghaven for Republicans, has banned anyone from "shilling for Ron Paul," with the justification that "Life really is not fair."

    On a lighter note, I'd like to thank you all for the constant and persistent distraction in Civil Procedure.

  16. I take that back: Ron Paul supporters have been permitted to comment/"shill" at RedState (which is like the right wing version of DailyKos), but only in the form of haiku.

  17. I apologize for not responding to these messages sooner, but I'm sure you all know how it is.

    However, I have an announcement. Today, Gregory Chase, multimillionaire and Gravel supporter, sent this letter [ http://gregory.chase.googlepages.com/OpenLetter.pdf ] to five executives at NBC, DNC chairman Howard Dean, the President of Drexel University, and also published it as an advertisement in four newspapers. Immediately below, I will post an excerpt:

    "If it would help get Senator Gravel back into the debate, I offer to purchase $1 million of advertising from NBC, or simply pay NBC $1 million in exchange for the service of allowing Senator Gravel to participate in your debate."

    But he doesn't stop there. He also posted this youtube video [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV2vR7-cStA ], where he is personally offering $25,000 to whoever produces the Gravel youtube video with the most views through the end of the year.

    Furthermore, Mr. Chase has personally purchased advertising space in the Monitor, the Manchester Union Leader and the Nashua Telegraph every day from now until the end of the year. These are the three major newspapers in New Hampshire.

    I am, as you might expect, extremely impressed with these contributions. More details to come later; I am posting this now as soon as I heard of it.

  18. HDNet Dec 1 DNC debate (Sat 7:30pm ET).
    - all eight -

    gravel kucinich paul nader