You Have To Ask Yourself Why Someone Would Spend To Quiet His Voice
by Tim Watts 011508

In the early going, Dennis Kucinich was in all the Democratic presidential debates. No one said a word to the contrary about it, at least not until the people really started to respond, with rousing, thunderous cheers of support for the message that they were hearing on the campaign trail.

Then, suspiciously enough, the debate hosts suddenly slowed the number of questions that were directed towards the six-term Congressman, sometimes waiting 45 minutes into the debate before they would even address him, and only then with a question that some might argue was specifically tailored to steer his answer, while attempting to neuter his message.

As a last resort, they simply quit inviting him. Not only did they not invite him, but they spent big money on high priced corporate lawyers to make sure that he didn't get the chance to speak.

Now why would anyone do that, especially to a campaign that doesn't have the money to make a major assault on the media? Why not just let the campaign exhaust itself of money as the big spenders buy their ticket to stay in the race to the end?

What is it about Kucinich's message that could be threatening to some?

Hmmm... let's think for a moment on that one.

Universal not-for-profit healthcare for everyone, a plan that cuts big pharmaceutical, the insurance companies and HMOs out of their obscene profit scheme, where one third of healthcare cost goes directly to their pockets for profit. Trillions with a capital T.

Then there's the repealing of NAFTA, a program set to make the banks and the corporate elite hundreds of billions in profits, with trillions on the line, much at the expense of third world countries and human rights, not to mention the loss of American jobs.

Another issue might be getting out of the Iraq war now, a plan exclusive to Kucinich that would obviously cost the defense industry, as well as the new private mercenary contractors, hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars in revenue.

Don't forget about Kucinich's pledge to decrease our nation's dependence on foreign oil and to work for a green economy, a plan that would affect hundreds of billions in immediate profits to the oil and energy barons of this country, again, with trillions at stake.

Probably the most threatening of all is his resolve on ending the corrupt Federal Reserve System, a cartel of ultra-rich billionaires and trillionaires that control every facet of society and government. Their profit from this corrupt system has literally been hundreds upon hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars since the Federal Reserve cabal was enacted.

And those are just the obvious i$$ue$, off the top of the head.

The point is, a Kucinich Presidency means the end of the road for corporate corruption and its dominance of our government. Period. Plain and simple. It's really that easy to figure out.

The huge elephant in the room here is undeniably big money and corporate avarice, leaving the official excuse for exclusion from the presidential debates as disingenuous and feeble at best to those with even the slightest hint of sentient reasoning.

Don't be so naive to think though that these powers that be are that easy to unseat. They are well steeped in vast financial resources and are firmly entrenched into our government and political system.

Take the first debate exclusion, the Iowa debates. Iowa is the second largest insurance state in the country. The insurance industry certainly didn't want not-for-profit health care rubbed in their face in their own backyard. Officials of AARP, an organization with a major health insurance association, obliged by dropping Kucinich from the Iowa debate.

Then it was on to New Hampshire, just a mere stone's throw from the number one insurance capitol of the nation, Hartford, Connecticut. They didn't want to hear any of it either, nor did sponsor ABC, who arbitrarily cut Kucinich from the debate.

Next up in the primary exclusion process was Nevada where the host network NBC played its own role in the debate exclusion.

NBC's Jenny Backus originally sent an e-mail on January 9th to the Kucinich campaign saying the Congressman had met the criteria set by NBC. Then, barely two days later, NBC News political director Chuck Todd called the Kucinich campaign to rescind the invitation by suddenly and unexpectedly changing the rules, to then allow only the top three candidates to debate.

The Kucinich campaign then filed a lawsuit, in Nevada state court, claiming a breach of contract with NBC to include Dennis in the debate. District Judge J. Charles Thompson ruled in Kucinich's favor, restricting NBC from even having the debate without Kucinich. Judge Thompson openly said that Kucinich was "uninvited under circumstances that appear to be that they just decided to exclude him.”

NBC indeed fought extra hard to keep Kucinich out of the debate, surprisingly, after they said he had already qualified and they had officially invited him. NBC then implicated themselves of bias by initiating some very calculated and deliberate moves in their steadfast efforts to silence a legitimate presidential candidate.

That sounds odd doesn't it, a Congressman being silenced by a news organization? The vaunted protector of democracy and our political system, was actually attacking the very system that it is meant to protect, not to mention manipulating the campaign process to boot (as did ABC). This isn't hallmark of a reputable news organization, but rather sinks to the ethics of FOX News.

To add insult to injury, as NBC violated Kucinich's own personal first amendment right to free speech, they then claimed that he violated their corporate first amendment right to free press, a rather interesting juxtaposition for a news organization to make, daring to openly trump free speech with freedom of the press.

NBC could have just allowed Kucinich in as planned, rather than make all the fuss, but the network showed a clear-cut resolve and personal bias by taking the resolute and exhaustive steps that it did.

NBC made three premeditated, very determined efforts to stop Kucinich from speaking in the debate:

1) They went out of their way to re-write their inclusion criteria so as to force Kucinich out of a debate that he had already qualified for under previous rules and had been officially invited to.

2) After a lower court had already ruled in Kucinich's favor, the network took the extra step to fight the case all the way to the Nevada Supreme Court. They put their best lawyers on it, working overnight mind you, to suppress free speech!

3) They went so far as to change the broadcast from airwaves, cable & satellite to just cable and satellite, to keep it legally out of FCC jurisdiction. Had it played on the local affiliates, then equal time would have to be been given to Kucinich. In order to keep from granting Kucinich the equal time under the Fairness Doctrine, NBC offered a concession to the court and "claimed" that they were pulling the debate broadcast from the local airwaves, thus negating the equal time issue before the court.

Here is a quote from Donald J. Campbell, legal counsel for NBC, as he was asked by a Nevada Supreme Court judge based in Reno on the local NBC affiliate advertising that it would run the debate over the airwaves:

"MSNBC, in discussions with me your honor, has stated, that it is their intention to show this only on MSNBC particularly if that would have any bearing on the application of the court’s decision here today.

[ Listen to the full Court Proceeding ]

First off, he clearly identifies that he himself spoke with NBC and not someone from his office, so he has this information as first hand knowledge.

Secondly, he states that NBC's intent was for a cable only broadcast. This it seems was, to put it best, a disingenuous claim on the part of NBC and General Electric.

Thirdly, Campbell appears to offer the no airwaves proffer as a legal coercion to the judge, as a bargaining chip, "particularly if that would have any bearing on the application of the court’s decision here today."

They seemingly tossed it out as a dangling carrot, to hopefully persuade and seal the deal for the judge's ruling. Legal bribery is probably not the best term, but legal insurance isn't too far off.

Seriously... how desperate is that when a media giant is willing to cut viewership, their bread and butter, in a concerted effort to withhold a legitimate presidential candidate from participating in a public political debate?

The audience that needed to see the debate most... the people of Nevada, who had their own state primary coming up that week, were somewhat disenfranchised by NBC who admittedly refused to show the debate locally, only so that they could purposely withhold Kucinich from the debate.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a blatantly desperate decision on the part of NBC.

And how then is Campbell and NBC's proffer viable as an option when only moments before Mr. Campbell had just claimed that there would be no airwaves broadcast? How was there any bargaining chip left then at that point?

This also has the clear inference that NBC was indeed planning all along to broadcast over the airwaves to their local affiliates, contrary to the adamant claims in a court of law, the Supreme Court of Nevada, that there was an early morning agreement not to broadcast locally.

Campbell then reiterates the cable only claim a second time to the court and then follows up with an even more heinous claim:

"We are going forward based solely that this is cable, or pay service, um, show, not on broadcast, so we’re going to eliminate any application of that particular statutory scheme in that regard, So the answer is no. And I have had that discussion with NBC as late as this morning… uh, with NBC headquarters in New York."

Again, he states twice that it is intended to be a cable only broadcast. This is extremely important to note as it is the sole legal basis for NBC's argument. But then, in the same breath, Campbell showed NBC's true colors by openly admitting that they were cutting the airwaves broadcast for the sole purpose of avoiding the Fairness Doctrine regulation and to avoid giving Kucinich equal time.

How can it be said that the claim by Campbell and NBC was disingenuous to the Nevada Supreme Court? Take the following comments from NBC affiliate KRNV TV General Manager Mary Beth Farrell, when asked what time she first knew they would not carry the debate locally:

"We found out at about five… oh between 5:20… I’d say around 5:20 that day, PM, our time."

When asked if that was with the Supreme Court ruling, she replied, "Uh, huh" in clear agreement yes.

Farrell then confirmed that they had indeed intended to carry the broadcast all along, contrary to the claim by Campbell of an alleged early morning NBC New York corporate decision not to air the debate over the local Nevada airwaves:

"We did (intend to carry the debate). Up until NBC told us they wouldn’t give us permission to do so. (Which Farrell previously claimed was around 5:20pm). We had planned, uh, ya know, not to air... we are normally a 6pm news cast there, uh, so we were not going to air that. We were just going to take the debate from six. It was supposed to run until 8:00. So it was kind of short notice, but uh, yeah, we were… I was disappointed because I really wanted to air it."

The same can be said for the NBC affiliate in Las Vegas. When asked if they were intending to show the debate that night, KVBC TV News Assignment Editor Miriam Firestone replied as follows:

"Yeah, we were planning on airing the debate and not having a six o'clock newscast. When the decision came down, we went with our six o'clock newscast."

When asked what time that decision came about, Firestone replied, "Oh gosh, about 5:15."

When questioned further, Firestone added, "Yeah. We got the decision when it was posted on the Supreme Court website. That was the only way we were able to find it out."

The Nevada Supreme Court ruling was published on the internet shortly after 5:00 pm (PST). Officials for both KRNV Reno and KVBC Las Vegas claim that they didn't hear about the debate being cancelled for airwaves broadcast until between 5:15 and 5:20, not early in the morning as Campbell claimed to the court.

Campbell claimed before the Nevada Supreme Court that he had spoken with NBC corporate headquarters in New York that morning when the decision for no local airwaves broadcast was made, yet according to the local affiliates, that is clearly not the case. The NBC corporate story is clearly contradicted by both of the local affiliates. It appears to be two-to-one over corporate, in the Nevada locals' favor.

With Nevada being three hours behind the East coast, surely a morning corporate decision in New York would have meant a very early morning call to Nevada, being much farther behind on West coast time. There was clearly enough time to notify their affiliates, yet they didn't.

The important issue to understand here is that valuable program content was at stake. The New York headquarters would never be so insensitive that it would forget to call its West coast affiliates and tell them they were going to need news content for that evening. That call would have been made immediately upon a decision, yet clearly it wasn't, casting serious doubt that the corporate decision claimed by Campbell was ever really made at all.

This is the media giant who after the New Hampshire primaries said they would be cutting the Nevada debate down to just the top four Democrats from New Hampshire. When the number four man, Bill Richardson, dropped out and number five, Dennis Kucinich, suddenly moved up to number four, NBC then quickly and unexpectedly adjusted their criteria again and said it would allow only the top three finishers.

It is interesting to note that in each of the NBC debate criteria adjustments, Dennis Kucinich was just under the inclusion criteria and was omitted from the debate.

If all of this doesn't have you asking the obvious questions about a fervent motive from NBC to exclude Kucinich from the debate, then here's this undeniable fact to consider:

NBC and MSNBC are owned by corporate giant GE, General Electric, one of the world's largest military contractors, but also a company that makes and sells nuclear power plants. The Yucca Mountain issue and the storage of nuclear waste is certainly a hot potato, a volatile topic that they would just as soon not become a debate issue. The use of Yucca Mountain is critical to the long range deployment of nuclear power plants by General Electric, and a potential trillion dollar industry.

The accusation that GE/NBC would purposely withhold Kucinich from the debate, due to his policies affecting GE, has merit and considerable weight when considering that GE/NBC canned Phil Donahue's nightly talk show due to his stance against the Iraq war.

In a confidential memo that was leaked and became public, NBC stated that Donahue would be a "difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.... He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives."

The memo continued that Donahue's show could be "a home for the liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity."

Further evidence of NBC programming bias was the removal of all mentions of nuclear waste from their 1999 dramatic mini-series called Atomic Train. In yet another instance, for a Today Show segment on consumer boycotts, guest Todd Putnam was told not to report on one of the largest boycotts in the country at the time, that of GE for it's roll as a defense contractor and its profiting from the production and sale of nuclear weapons.

In the end, it was the corporate media that purposefully held Dennis Kucinich out of the debates. In Iowa it was media giant Gannett and its newspaper the Des Moines Register. In New Hampshire it was ABC and in Nevada it was NBC. A shameful discourse on the protectors of our Republic and the democracy for which it used to stand.

What happened to the day when debates were sponsored by impartial groups, such as the League of Women Voters? What happened to the day when the media merely covered the election proceedings, instead of trying to shape them and manipulate them?

And if you still don't believe that the media refuses to cover the message of Kucinich, then see it with your own eyes with a media track of all US coverage of the six-term Congressman.
To coin an old phrase, "seeing is believing."

The only media spike for Kucinich was on the Cheney impeachment.

[ A larger graph can be found here, along with a video explanation ]

As Paul Harvey is best known for, "and now you know the rest of the story."

As the old saying goes, politics makes for strange bedfellows, yet little did we ever think our hallowed press would ever be caught in such a sordid affair. Murrow would most likely roll over in his grave. Somewhere, Cronkite most surely feels the pain.

When a (formerly) esteemed news organization makes a case to suppress a person's right to freedom of speech and bases it on their own corporate right to freedom of the press, then who the heck is helping to safeguard our democracy for us?

One thing is for certain, but for all the people trying to stop him, Dennis Kucinich is certainly trying to.

[ Written by Tim Watts ]


GE/NBC vs Kucinich Court Ruling

Emergency Petition for Writ of Prohibition (pdf) (2.77MB)

Kucinich's Opposition to Emergency Petition (pdf) (182KB)

Order Granting Petition for Writs of Prohibtion and Mandamus (pdf) (261KB)

Order Scheduling Oral Argument (pdf) (48KB)


Second Primary In A Row That An Excuse Has Been Made For Exclusion

For the second straight caucus/primary in a row, an excuse has been made to withhold Dennis Kucinich from the debate.

With Des Moines Iowa being one of the two largest insurance meccas in the country, it is highly questionable that the one candidate who proposes a not-for-profit healthcare system would be denied a voice in the Iowa Democratic debates.

Now, once again, only a stone's throw from the insurance capitol of the world in Connecticut, candidate Kucinich is being held out of a second consecutive debate as ABC has set their own criteria for who should or should not qualify to be in the New Hampshire Democratic debate.

Under previous standards of ethical journalism and news conduct, the networks are supposed to cover the debates, not shape the debate process.

According to the ABC logic, the decision was made because, "it hoped to encourage more conversation and interaction among the candidates."

The ABC argument for exclusion is untenable under that base logic, especially when those being excluded bring the most to the debate process.

During a Friday night interview on Bill Moyers' Journal on PBS, Moyers asked Kucinich about the ABC criteria and his exclusion from the New Hampshire debates.

"Whatever their criteria was, they have no right to make the decision for the people of New Hampshire, prior to the election being held. They have no right. As licensees... the airwaves belong to the public, lest we forget. They don't belong to ABC. Disney, which owns ABC, has had executives contributing to some of the candidates in this race."

During the broadcast, Moyers pointed out the fact that after the first ABC televised debates, Kucinich had won their own straw poll by a large margin, and yet ABC withheld that news from wide circulation.

Interestingly enough, the stories that are now out in the media stream regarding the ABC exclusion of Kucinich were all copied or re-written from the offending network, ABC, who is attributed for originating the story, a disturbing fact unto itself. It's very unsettling for many Kucinich supporters to see the accused get to report on themselves, with no report or investigation from an impartial news organization.

A quick check of the links below indicates who is given credit for this questionably biased report. Some stories give an AP attribute at the beginning, but a check of the actual AP story reveals that it was taken verbatim from ABC. The Associated Press gives credit in the story to ABC News as the author. 

ABC  |  AP  |  CBS  |  MSNBC  |  CNN  |  WMUR

Kucinich supporters maintain that it's hard to argue our media isn't controlling the political process when events like this keep happening. First it was Gannet in Iowa and now ABC/Disney.

Kucinich has filed a complaint with the FCC against ABC over his exclusion from the New Hampshire debate. The campaign hopes to run an ad during the ABC New Hampshire debates.

Kucinich Files FCC Complaint Over ABC NH Debate Exclusion

VIDEO: WMUR Gives Kucinich Airtime After Debates

VIDEO: WMUR News Story Regarding Kucinich Candidacy in NH