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Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Democrats in Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s home state, have announced plans for a 2008 presidential primary debate featuring top Democratic contenders, but now they are having to deal with the vehement opposition from a group they usually find in their corner, MoveOn.org’s civic action arm.

It’s because the Democrats have announced that Fox News will act as host to the presidential primary debate, a huge mistake, MoveOn said in an e-mail to supporters soliciting their support for its objections.

“Fox isn’t a legitimate news channel. It’s a right-wing mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh and the Drudge Report – repeating false Republican talking points to smear Democrats,” the e-mail said.

It offers recipients an option to click and add their names to a list that will be sent to Nevada Democrats, seeking the dismissal of Fox from the project.

“Fox has already tried to skew the ’08 race by accusing Senator Barack Obama of attending a terrorist school. CNN immediately exposed the charge as false, and Obama hit back by refusing to appear on Fox – sending them scrambling,” the organization said in its solicitation. “Democrats can force Fox to be fair and balanced by fighting back hard.”

Fox News, whose motto is “fair and balanced,” could not be reached immediately for a response.



George Soros

But the campaign by MoveOn, which was given at least $5 million by billionaire George Soros during the 2004 election in his attempts to unseat President Bush, seeks signatures on a petition asking the Nevada Democrats to drop Fox.

“The full text of the petition is: ‘Fox is a mouthpiece for the Republican Party, not a legitimate news channel. The Democratic Party of Nevada should drop Fox as its partner for the presidential primary debate,’” the e-mail said.

“If ever there was a battle where we could beat Fox, this is it – since Democrats will make the ultimate decision, not Fox executives. But to be convinced, Democratic leaders need to see a growing public backlash.”

The e-mail said Fox is being blamed in a film by Robert Greenwald for attacking candidate Barack Obama, and it “also spread false smears about Hillary Clinton this year. Plus, when Democrats trusted Fox to host a presidential debate in 2003, Fox undermined Democrats with on-screen headlines like ‘Democratic Candidates Offer Grim View of America,’” the campaign said.

“We can fight back. The Washington Post reported that ‘Obama camp has ‘frozen out’ Fox News reporters and producers in the wake of the network’s major screw-up in running with the erroneous Obama-the-jihadist story,’” the campaign said.

“As the 2008 cycle begins, we need to show Fox there will be serious repercussions for being part of right-wing smear jobs – and we need to show voters they cannot trust Fox for news,” said the e-mail, signed by “Noah, Adam G., Marika, Wes, and the MoveOn.org Civic Action Team.”

The state party plans in Nevada are to hold an event in August in Reno. “Fox News, the Nevada Democratic Party and the Western Majority Project have jointly announced that they will host a 2008 presidential debate…” the party announced recently.

“This is more great news for Nevada,” said Reid, D-Nev. “I’m happy Fox News will be a partner for the August presidential debate. Western issues will be a major focus of this debate in particular. With Fox News as our partner, candidates will have an opportunity to not only speak to Nevada voters, but voters across the West…”

The party quoted Roger Ailes, Fox News chairman, as saying Fox was proud “to be a leader in coverage of the 2008 campaign season.”

The Western Majority Project is a political action committee designed to “build upon the growing political strength of the West by injecting Western issues into the national dialogue.”

“Westerners appreciate straight talk and someone who will fight for their values. This debate will provide an enormous opportunity for these candidates to demonstrate the independent, common sense and forward-looking leadership that westerners expect in the next president,” said Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.

The MoveOn.org Civic Action is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit campaigning to “reform the media” and making sure lawmakers hear the voices of “real people.”

The MoveOn family of organizations includes the Civic Action group, which used to be known just as MoveOn.org, and a federal political action committee.


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