Ron Paul Supporters Put Howard Kurtz in His Place

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Last week, on CNN’s Reliable Sources, host Howard Kurtz used Ron Paul as a foil to whip up support for the media favorite, Rudy Giuliani.

But we begin by turning our critical lens on the Republican presidential debate on FOX News. The most replayed sound bite by far was of Giuliani responding to Texas’ congressman Ron Paul’s declaration that we, the U.S., brought on the 9/11 attacks by bombing Iraq for a decade. (He then plays the tape of Giuliani’s response without Paul’s comments.)

Guest neocon William Bennett: What he had to do, Heidi, was get beyond the abortion issue, and he did, thanks to Ron Paul, the libertarian candidate who gave him this opportunity to talk about 9/11. Guests Brit Hume, Chuck Todd, and Ryan Lizza agreed that Rudy was the best thing since sliced bread.

Kurtz continues to slam Ron with periodic comments: Giuliani gets off a good line against the extremely obscure Ron Paul in a ridiculously early debate.

Kurtz closes the show with clips to make further fun of Ron Paul (and Mike Gravel), and then concludes:

So, why don’t the cable networks just say no to these distant also-rans? FOX said it invited anyone polling at least one percent in South Carolina. MSBNC says it had no minimum threshold. CNN, which is hosting Democratic and Republican debates in New Hampshire early next month, says a candidate must have measurable public support, but wont’ disclose the specifics. Why not set a higher standard? Say, five percent in the polls? These news organizations are allowing ego-driven fringe candidates to muck up debates among those with an actual shot at the White House. It should be like baseball. If you don’t make the cut, you get sent to the sidelines until you raise your game.

Kurtz’s suggestion that the media exclude Ron Paul from future debates generated some emails the following week.

Takahashi from Japan writes, “Many Japanese follow your show. The big debate recently in Japanese circles who are interested in American politics is about the Ron Paul effect. We want to know more about him.”

David from Seattle said, “Shame on you for saying that the ‘also rans’ should not be in the debates. The last time I checked not a single vote or caucus has been held. The only way most of these voices can be heard is with the public forums.”

And Thomas from Boulder, Colorado, writes, “Why on earth would you seek to silence voices who don’t agree with the so-called ‘mainstream’ candidates? Another word for mainstream is ‘bought and paid for.’ So you want the American public only to be able to see the bought and paid for candidates?” Well, even the lesser candidates have to raise money to run for president.

My guess is that if Kurtz had received a single response agreeing with him, he would have read it on the air.

10:06 am on May 28, 2007