(FinalCall.com) – Democratic presidential hopefuls, Senators Barack Obama (D-IL), Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and former Senator John Edwards (D-NC), announced Apr. 9 that they would all pull out of the presidential debate scheduled for Sept. 23 in Detroit, Mich. because it is being co-sponsored by FOX News and the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute (CBCI). Through their own spokespersons, the candidates said that FOX News was not the proper venue for their debates.

“There’s just no reason for Democrats to give FOX a platform to advance the right-wing agenda while pretending they’re objective,” said Mr. Edwards’ deputy campaign manager, Jonathan Prince.

The Democrats have been under pressure from activists such as James Rucker, director of the California-based online advocacy group, Colorofchange.org, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson of Rainbow PUSH Coalition. According to ABC news, the Nevada Democratic Party canceled a FOX News debate scheduled for August, due to pressure from organizations such as MoveOn.org, and Internet activist site netroots.


A statement released by the Edwards campaign read: “We believe there’s just no reason for Democrats to give Fox a platform to advance the right-wing agenda while pretending they’re objective. If there was any uncertainty as to Fox’s objectivity, it was put to rest when they attacked Democratic candidates, Democratic constituency groups, and the Nevada Democratic party when their last proposed debate was cancelled for lack of support,” while an aide to Sen. Obama said “CNN seems to be a more appropriate host.”

“I am definitely satisfied; this is great, but, there is low-note. We still haven’t received any comments from CBC members saying that using FOX was the wrong thing to do,” Mr. Rucker told The Final Call.

“Members of the CBC might not realize it, but the CBC has chosen a dangerous path,” Mr. Rucker mused, and mentioned that from the thousands of signatures on petitions his group circulated, it would seem that “Black America is on the right page,” because leadership has to catch up to the community and understand that FOX is not on the same page with Blacks.

FOX consistently marginalizes Black leaders and the Black community, and should not be given the CBC’s stamp of approval,” he said.

CBCI spokeswoman Candice Tolliver said the organization had “no comment” at this time. She also said the debates were still on. A second debate has been scheduled for Republican candidates, but the site and date have yet to be determined.

CBCI is a nonprofit organization designed to train and educate Blacks and others on key issues of national policy. The CBCI also commissions policy research, holds conferences and symposia, and conducts a political education and campaign training program. Founded in 2000, the organization is governed by a board of directors comprised of individuals from academia, business, labor and elective office, including CBC members.

In a press release announcing the agreement with FOX News, CBCI board chairman, Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), said, “As a leading organization dedicated to educating the public on issues of national policy, the CBCI is committed to presenting the presidential candidates to the broadest audience possible.”

According to the Associated Press, aides to Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton have stated that the candidates would participate in six debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee. The DNC did not include the FOX News-CBCI debate on its list. Sen. Clinton’s campaign also said she would participate in a debate in South Carolina, which will be hosted by author, political commentator, and talk show host Tavis Smiley.

Sen. Obama and FOX News’ relationship has been strained since FOX television host Sean Hannity invited Black guests to attack the Illinois Senator’s church as separatist, racist and cultish. After FOX repeatedly harped on Sen. Obama’s middle name, Hussein, and ran a fabricated story that the Senator was schooled as an Islamic fundamentalist, it was believed future dealings with the network would be non-existent.