It’s about time somebody in charge did so. Two snaps up for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for refusing to sanction the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) co-sponsored Democratic debate scheduled with Fox News. Other people have written about this like Chris Bowers of MyDD and Kos of DailyKos.

There’s a whole other layer of activity here to consider. The reason the DNC is able to backslap the CBC’s ill-considered partnership with racist “news” network Fox is because there is a rival Democratic debate being run through PBS with emerging black leader Tavis Smiley at the helm.

Tavis has been playing it cool and hasn’t said anything (to my knowledge) rapping the CBC. But his actions speak for themselves. PBS is a network accessible to all. The debates will take place at 2 historically black colleges bringing much appreciated attention and resources to these HBCU communities.

From the press release dated Wed April 4 (props to Crayon People):

Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson will participate in the “All-American Presidential Forums on PBS,” moderated by Tavis Smiley, on June 28, 2007, from 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET at Howard University in Washington, DC. Questions to the candidates will be posed by Smiley and journalists Michel Martin of National Public Radio, nationally syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. and USA Today and Gannett News Service columnist DeWayne Wickham. The event will be televised live on PBS.

“All-American Presidential Forums” on PBS, moderated by Tavis Smiley, marks the first time that a panel exclusively comprised of journalists of color will be represented in primetime. The candidates will be asked about issues ranging from healthcare and housing to Katrina relief, the economy and the environment, among others outlined in the #1 The New York Times best- seller, Covenant With Black America.

A second forum for Republican presidential candidates will be held on September 27, 2007, on the campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Tavis’ debate looks like an easy one for the DNC to get behind. Indeed, their announcement Thurs on the heels of Tavis’ announcement seems almost a tacit acceptance of one debate aimed at the African-American audience while openly rejecting another. All done with velvet gloves, so politely.

The CBC finds themselves out-classed and isolated. It’s time for leaders there to do another cost-benefit analysis. Does the benefit of Fox and News Corp donations and the dubious “exposure” with Fox’s audience make up for the loss of influence among Democratic peers?

I urge responsible CBC members to consider joining forces with Tavis and to walk away from the Fox debate. If not, candidates should consider which debate is truly the best venue to reach the critical black vote — Tavis’ PBS debate or the CBC/Fox fiasco.

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