Who’s in and who’s out at the Presidential debates?
Out: Third party candidates who have a mathematical possibility of getting 270 electoral votes – Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Stein was arrested trying to get onto the Hofstra University campus this week where the second Presidential debate was being held.
In: George Farah, author of No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates. Farah was a guest of Al-Jazeera television at Hofstra. He made the case from inside the belly of the beast in Spin Alley at Hofstra that the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) is controlled by the corporate duopoly to exclude third party candidates. The CPD says that you can’t allow all 410 people running for President into the debates. But Farah only wants those on enough state ballots to win, with five percent in the polls, or with a poll showing that the majority of the American people want them in the debates. The more than 700 reporters at Hofstra mostly ignored Farah’s message.
(Photo: Commission on Presidential Debates Co-Chair Mike McCurry with NBC’s Chuck Todd at Budweiser Hospitality Tent, University of Denver, October 3, 2012. Photo by Russell Mokhiber)
Out: Activist groups who were denouncing both corporate parties. Anti-drone and anti-war protesters were kept outside the gates at both Hofstra University and the University of Denver.
In: Not all activists were kept out. Members of AARP were allowed onto the Hofstra campus. And an Alzheimer awareness group was allowed to give out materials to reporters as they went into the media credentialing center. (They were also allowed to hand out a press release to the reporters at the media center.) Which raises the question – who decided to let AARP and the Alzheimer’s group in, but ban the anti-drone group and anti-war groups?
(Photo: Google and Consumer Electronics Association booth outside media filing center, Presidential Debates, Hofstra University, October 16, 2012.)
Out: Coors Light. It’s Bud, Bud Light and Anheuser Busch approved beers only at the debates. As one of the prime sponsors of the debates, Anheuser Busch had a monopoly on what the reporters ate and drank while under the Budweiser hospitality tent at all the debates. In addition to the Budweiser hospitality tent, giant Budweiser banners hung over the media center at Hofstra.
In: 99Rise. Devon Whitham of the activist group 99Rise snuck onto the Hofstra campus early in the morning on the day of the Presidential debate. She held a sign that read – “Obama and Romney, Take a Stand, Get $$$ Out.” She says she got in when a revolving gate stuck open and she squeezed in. Her prize? She was constantly harassed by the police. (See video.)
Out: To Lunch. The vast majority of Hofstra University students, who had free access to the campus, but choose to party and hold signs that read things like — “Who Let the Dogs Out,” instead of joining with Whitman and raising concerns about the corporate duopoly’s rush to war, control by corporate money, and opposition to single payer national health insurance – to name three possibilities.
In: Google, the Consumer Electronics Association, and Twitter, who bought booths outside the media filing center at Hofstra. How come the No to War in Iran protesters weren’t allowed in that space?
Out: Reporters who would challenge the two party duopoly. Most of them were interested only in the horse race and failed to raise a finger to challenge the corporate control of the event.
In: Corporate crime defense law firm Crowell & Moring. CPD co-chair Mike McCurry thanked all the corporate sponsors, including Anheuser Busch and Crowell & Moring right, minutes before the Hofstra debate.
Out: Larry King. He’ll be hosting a debate between third party candidates next week in Chicago. The debate is hosted by Free and Equal.
In: Wells Fargo, which sponsored the media bag at the University of Denver. Wells Fargo is one of the five too big to fail banks. Interestingly, at the University of Denver debate, Mitt Romney accused President Obama of protecting the too big to fail banks. Obama couldn’t answer him – because it was true. Not that Romney would vote to break up Wells Fargo. But what might a third party candidate like Jill Stein, if she were on the stage, have said? Bust ‘em up. Romney also accused President Obama of driving millions of Americans in to poverty. Again, Obama didn’t respond.
Out: Forty percent of the American people who are independents. As former Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan said about the Commission on Presidential Debates: “It’s an instrument of the two political parties to ensure that the presidency is passed back and forth between them. The very fact that this duopoly can keep you out of the debates means you don’t play in the Super Bowl.”
(Photo: Wells Fargo sponsored Commission on Presidential Debates University of Denver media bag, October 3, 2012.)