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Will Fox let Karger debate?

Timothy Kincaid

August 5th, 2011

I love the audacity of Fred Karger. There’s something just delicious about a gay man running for the Republican Party presidential nomination. But when he polls higher than Rick Santorum, it just makes me giggle. From the August 2-4 Harris Poll:

If you are a registered Republican or Independent, which of the following candidates would you be most likely to support for the Republican nomination for President in 2012?

Base: Registered Republican/Independent

16% Mitt Romney
10% Ron Paul
10% Michele Bachmann
6% Herman Cain
4% Newt Gingrich
2% Tim Pawlenty
2% Fred Karger
2% Jon Huntsman
1% Rick Santorum
1% Gary Johnson
1% Thadeous McCotter
1% Buddy Roemer
46% None of these

Admittedly Fred is a novelty candidate. His chances of winning the Presidency of the United States are rather slim. And there is some merit to those who want to limit debates to “legitimate candidates” so as to give Americans a choice without adding the clutter of wacky nutjobs. Declaring that you are running for President does not and should not give you immediate access to a national audience.

But Fred, though a novelty is serious. And he’s not just some loon. He has significant political experience (this is his tenth presidential campaign), far more than Herman Cain, and his views on fiscal policy are mainstream Republican. Additionally, his social policies could position him as the only fully supportable candidate for the not-insignificant percentage of moderate Republicans.

And Fred is treating his campaign as real. He has done more real face to face campaigning than many of those who are considered legitimate and is beginning to catch the attention of political writers seeking an amusing that doesn’t center around the latest banal utterance of Michele Bachmann. And when readers find out that Fred was a successful high-level Republican political consultant whose most significant differences with the party are over social issues, his message can resonate.

But neither the Party nor the media hosting debates want anything to do with Fred. The Party wants to avoid the issues that he will bring up, and the media wants to keep the Party happy. Fox News, of course, wants both.

But Fox has a problem. They are finding it difficult to define the rules for inclusion in such a way as to keep people like Rick Santorum and Tim Pawlenty in, but to keep Fred out.

And Fred is demanding that they play be their own rules. He has sent a letter to Fox to inform then that as he is registered with the Federal Election Commission and has gotten on average 1% of the last five national polls, that he therefor qualifies to be included in next Thursday’s televised debate.

I suspect that Fox will just ignore Fred. Santorum will we there and maybe Huntsman and Johnson, but there will be no place for a marginal candidate such as Fred (though I think more Americans would vote for Karger than Santorum).

But I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that he is granted the position that he has earned and to which he is entitled.

First, I think that Republican voters need to hear what Fred has to say. One of the Party’s biggest problems is that when they get together, no one is willing to challenge – in language that Republicans understand – the presumptions that are not only illogical but are in conflict with core principles.

But even more importantly, Fred represents one of cherished myths of our country: Anyone, anyone at all, can be President. It doesn’t matter how rich you are or how many powerful people you know, if you stand up and tell the truth and follow the rules and can somehow convince enough people to support you, you have the chance at the office as any other citizen.

And I want this myth to be true. I want for the outsider to at least be given the same chance as the power broker. Sure criteria have to be met. But if he can meet it – and Fred has – then it is intensely UnAmerican to deny him his voice.

For every little boy or girl who has been promised this possibility, this chance to compete for the nation’s highest office based not on who they are but on what they can do, I hope Fox keeps its word and plays fairly and lets Fred Karger join the debate.

UPDATE:

The answer is in. No, of course Fox News will not let Fred debate. (Des Moines Register)

Michael Clemente, vice president of news for the network, said Karger doesn’t qualify.

Clemente said each of the polls cited by Karger are either online, interactive or out of date and do not qualify for the purpose of meeting the debate criteria.

Well, yes and no, Mr. Clemente.

Two of the polls included by Fred are “online, interactive”. Fred included, as his basis, two IBOPE Zogby International polls.

However Mr. Clemente’s insinuation that these polls are fluff and nonsense is dishonest. These are not American Family Association polls that can be freeped, or even a newspaper’s “poll” of its readers. These are polls which seek to measure the views of a statistically valid representations of the electorate:

IBOPE Zogby International conducted an online survey of 1,103 likely Republican primary voters. A sampling of IBOPE Zogby International’s online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the U.S., was invited to participate. Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, gender, and education to more accurately reflect the population. The margin of error is +/- 3.0 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. The MOE calculation is for sampling error only.

And if these are pish, pish, not worth a mention, then why did Fox News not mention that when reporting the results of zogby polls?

But there was one poll listed that Clemente may have some basis for finding flawed: a Fox News Poll from April 28. I have to assume that Clemente knows more about that poll than we do.

And the final poll was one in which Fred got less than 1% and is immaterial. I can’t think of a reason to consider a McClathy-Marist poll invalid, but fine toss it out. Give him a zero. He still averages 1% and is qualified.

Fred does have an issue: he can’t force pollsters to include him. Those who want to make the gay guy invisible can simply not include him as an option. But behind Clemente’s deceptive position remains one truth: whenever Fred Karger is included in a poll, he does better than Rick Santorum. And unlike most of the other second-tier candidates, Fred’s numbers are increasing.

So Fox News’ and Michael Clemente’s “explanation” reek of exclusion and arrogance. Freg Karger isn’t being excluded due to the type of poll, he’s being excluded because they want to shut him up.

Comments

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David C.
August 5th, 2011 | LINK

Faux News feels free to move the goalposts whenever they choose. I don’t expect this time to be any different. The fact that a right-wing mouthpiece is hosting and controls the rules for these events tells me most of what I need to know about the state of politics in America.

Remember this “news” organization is owned by a corporation that was able to satisfy a court that “news” is entertainment and can be a complete fiction. To me this makes their hosting of the debates very suspicious.

jpeckjr
August 5th, 2011 | LINK

Hold it. 46% of those surveyed — nearly half of the registered Republican / Independent voters surveyed — would vote for NONE of the candidates who have announced to date.

46% support NONE of them?

Well. That IS interesting! I’m not sure any of them have enough support to be called legitimate candidates.

David C.
August 6th, 2011 | LINK

RE: Update

As I said, Faux News would simply move the goalposts.

Jonathan Oz
August 6th, 2011 | LINK

I just want to note that when the people of California recalled Governor Gray Davis several years ago, the debates were enlivened by some of the added “nut jobs” who were not afraid to raise issues that the “by the book” candidates of both parties were afraid to address. Now, we did end up with Arnold Schwartzenegger who opted not to participate in those debates, but still one guy’s “nut job” can be another guy’s visionary. How do you think ideas like Social Security entered the mainstream?

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