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It's Time For Democrats To Take Their Heads Out Of The Sand And Deal With FOX News

Reported by Ellen - June 21, 2005

I know I'm probably going to annoy a lot of people by saying this but the only thing more infuriating than watching FOX News stump for the GOP is the generally pathetic response from the Democrats. Often ill-prepared and seemingly clueless about FOX's tactics, sometimes they don't bother to appear at all, thereby losing the battle without even fighting in it. Yesterday's (6/20/05) Big Story with John Gibson was a good case in point.

In yet another segment about the "appropriateness" of Dick Durbin's remarks, FOX News yet again skirted the issue of the "appropriateness" of the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. It was a perfect opportunity for a Democrat to exploit that oversight but instead it turned out no Democrat would even agree to appear. The result was that the entire discussion was left up to Bill Kristol and John Gibson. I can't remember either of them ever saying anything good on FOX News about a Democrat and their records remained unbroken after yesterday's segment.

The discussion began with Gibson distorting Durbin's remarks. "Ever since Senator Dick Durbin compared US guards at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, (Durbin never did such a thing. He criticised the treatment of the prisoners and, I would argue, the policy behind it, not the guards) ...the Illinois Democrat has been taking a lot of heat. He's now offering an apology of sorts - but some say it's not enough." While Gibson spoke, the question "Should Durbin be stripped of his leadership position?" appeared on the bottom of the screen.

Introducing Kristol, Gibson asked whether Durbin just inadvertently put his foot in his mouth or was he really "making a loathsome assertion for which he has to be flogged and stripped of his positions of power?"

Kristol said he thought it was the former and had expected Durbin to apologize but was surprised at the "pseudo-apology." "I think it was the non-apology that outraged people and frankly outraged me," Kristol added.

By then, Gibson was on a roll and said that while the Nazi comment was bad enough, it was "truly, truly horrific" to compare Gitmo to the Soviet gulags, along with a comparison to Pol Pot. "Is there a triple level offense here?"

This might have been another opportunity for a Democrat to speak up because one could easily infer from Gibson's comments that mistreating prisoners is no biggie to him but what's truly, truly horrific is complaining about it. But no.

Instead, the "big fact" appeared on the screen that "Sen Durbin compared Gitmo interrogators to the Nazis" while Kristol cleverly spun the issue. He said that he was a critic of our prisoner treatment policies but that critics are the ones who should be condemning Durbin in order to avoid this "insane" comparison. He then lamented the unwillingness of Democrats to comment on Durbin's remarks. That's when Gibson revealed that he had been unable to get a Democrat to appear with Kristol.

It's not just Gibson. Last year, during the presidential campaign, Alan Colmes repeatedly complained about his inability to get Democrats to appear on his prime time TV show, Hannity & Colmes. Here's just one example.

What are the Democrats thinking? That FOX News is going to go away if they ignore it? That strategy didn't work with the Swift Boat Veterans. They appeared night after night on Hannity & Colmes last summer while the Democrats avoided it. Look how well that worked.

No doubt it's not easy going up against the likes of Hannity, O'Reilly, Gibson, et al. I'm sure I'd fail miserably at it. That's just one reason why I'm a blogger, not a media strategist. But just as no blogger would build a following by deliberately avoiding certain search engines, I can't for the life of me understand how anyone would craft a media strategy by staying away from one of the major players.

NOTE TO READERS: I know that many of you will disagree with me about this. Please feel free to voice your opinions so long as you remain civil and respectful to me and each other. I will delete any comments I feel are otherwise, possibly without notice.

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