Fox/CBC Institute Dems debate on hold

The controversial Democratic presidential debate sponsored by Fox News and the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education & Leadership Institute and scheduled for Sept. 23 in Detroit has been indefinitely postponed.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, first vice chairwoman of the caucus, does not serve on the CBC Institute’s board, and this morning commented: “I am not surprised, given Fox News’ long track record of being anything but ‘fair and balanced.’ ”

The leading Democratic candidates – Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama — had refused to take part in the event as many Democrats, especially in the blogosphere, objected to Fox News’ apparent Republican bias.

Announcing the postponement, CBC Institute Board Chairman U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said, “The overwhelming number of party presidential debates has created a scheduling challenge. Revising the CBC Institute’s debate schedule will allow the time necessary to complete all debate logistics in an effective manner.” And FOX News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes added, “We look forward to working with the CBC Institute and continuing a successful relationship that affords presidential candidates the ability to reach the largest possible audience in cable news.”

But bloggers are claiming victory.

Steve Benen @ Crooks and Liars: “The netroots worked very hard on this, and deserve a lot of credit for the outcome.”

Justin Krebs @ the Working Assets blog: “This is a great victory for progressives and anyone who has a stake in preserving fair news coverage in our country. Since the debate was announced, liberal bloggers have attacked it, saying that it legitimized a media organization that is so obviously a right-wing propaganda machine.”

Chris Bowers @ Open Left: “Fox News thinks they are just canceling this debate, but will still try to host a Democratic debate at some point later in the cycle. Of course, given that Obama has already sworn off accepting any new debate invitations, and since neither Edwards nor Clinton will debate on Fox if Obama won’t for fear of progressive activist backlash, it can safely be said that Fox News will not be hosting a Democratic debate this primary season. It is a small victory, but still–Huzzah!”

In 2003, major Democratic candidates took part in a Detroit debate sponsored by Fox News and the CBC Institute. The CBC Institute still has three other presidential debates planned: two with CNN and one for Republican candidates with Fox News.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.