With the primary election season finally (mercifully) about to begin, two networks have given Ron Paul supporters a legitimate issue over which to cry "media conspiracy!" The two conglomerates in question, FOX and ABC, have summarily decided to exclude some candidates from forthcoming debates. While Paul may or may not make the roster for Saturday's ABC debate, he's definitely not being invited to Fox's on Sunday. Though Paul continues to lead the big AOL straw poll, proving that his followers spend more time online than any of the other candidates', the more traditional telephone surveys have not shown him attaining double digit levels of approval. But is that the whole story?
Paul fans are particularly irate with Fox News, who seems to have pulled the plug on their man primarily because they don't agree with his ideas. How else to explain including Fred Thompson, the man who doesn't especially want to be president, at their January 6 round-table forum, while excluding Paul? While out-raising the entire GOP field in 4th-quarter fundraising with a total of over $19 million, Paul positively crushed Thompson, and "The Tennessee Stud's" poll numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire aren't exactly stellar.
The New Hampshire Republican Party isn't happy about Fox's decision, either. State party Chairman Fergus Cullen explains:
"...the New Hampshire Republican Party calls upon all media organizations planning pre-primary debates or forums for both parties to include all recognized major candidates in their events. The New Hampshire Republican Party has notified Fox News of our position..."
Fox isn't the only network to run afoul of the Paul campaign. Adding to the controversy, ABC has also decided to winnow the number of candidates on stage at a January 5th debate. This time, Paul may or may not make the cut. ABC's reasons, at least, seem somewhat more scientific.
The network has set new criteria for the debate, with candidates needing to meet one of three criteria: placing fiifh through fourth in the Iowa Caucuses, polling at higher than 5% in one of the last four major New Hampsshire polls, or polling at 5% or higher in one of the last four national polls.