So I was reading this Hill article on the Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate on the Fox News Network and I have to say I was astonished to see that the CBC is still split. I don’t know all the players, but I am willing to bet that the same people who thought it was a bad idea to begin with now recommend pulling out now that first Edwards, then Obama and then Clinton withdrew on principle. A voice of reason:

“I’ve had conversations with my colleagues and we’re probably going to have further discussions,” caucus member Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) said. “My point is that the major candidates aren’t going to be there, and that’s no real debate.
“I think there should be consultation with the candidates and consultation among ourselves,” he said. “If the candidates choose not to participate, we probably need to rethink what we’re doing.”

There is no way to salvage this debate. So the CBC has been humbled and humiliated. So what? They are just lucky it never really crossed over big-time into the mainstream media. Yet. Do they really want to compound the humiliation by hosting a debate with second-tier candidates that no one watches? Who cares if it’s the largest cable news network? If a debate falls in an empty forest, does anyone hear it?

Who cares if Fox was there for the CBC back in 2004 when no one else was? Has anyone questioned the motives behind that move on Fox’s part? Who was Faux News really boosting — and whom do they attack over and over? Here’s a couple more sensible opinions:

“I do think that the CBC should seriously consider pulling out because Fox almost always chooses the opposite position of our caucus and members are continuously badmouthed on there,” a member of the black caucus, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), said. “That would be my position inside the caucus. However, I in the final analysis would support the caucus’s decision.”

Another caucus member, Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.), said: “Fox News brings the right-wing side of the news, and there’s no sense in participating in that kind of game-playing.

“We’re very serious about taking the administration in November and I wouldn’t trust getting an accurate and true portrayal of our views on the issues if Fox News is coordinating it,” she said in reference to Democratic hopes of taking back the White House in 2008.

The CBC needs to check itself and get real. This debate is over. They’ve got a few choices as I see it:

1) Proceed with the debate and suffer humiliation on a larger scale as the controversy and frontrunners’ failure to appear at the debate becomes broadcast to the nation. Today show: Here We Come!
2) Wait for Fox to back out of the debate, eliminating the need for an awkward discussion with a major CBC Foundation donor
3) Take the stand that the frontrunners have taken and withdraw on principled grounds. Turn defeat into victory.

I really hope the CBCI chooses Door #3. I really don’t want to see Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI) (who happens to chair the CBC) on Good Morning America explaining why the top tier candidates have refused to participate in the debate (but are participating in Tavis Smiley’s debate) and why they are having the debate anyway. There are too many other issues where her voice is needed on behalf of African-Americans. We certainly don’t need her shuckin’, jivin’ and apologizin’ for racist Fox News.

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