FEC to investigate Fox News’ refusal to let GOP candidate Karger into presidential debate

Friday, September 02, 2011 at 11:25 am

The Federal Election Commission agreed Thursday to investigate a complaint GOP presidential candidate Fred Karger filed last month against Fox News, according to Karger’s presidential campaign.

The substance of Karger’s complaint, filed under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, is that Fox News did not allow him to participate in the network’s televised presidential debate on Aug. 11 in Ames, Iowa.

“I qualified for last month’s Fox News Channel Debate fair-and-square, and was fully expecting to be on that stage in Ames,” Karger said in a press statement Thursday. “For some reason, Fox News did not want me debating the other presidential candidates.”

Karger claims he met all of Fox’s requirements to participate in the debate, which included reaching an average of 1 percent in five national polls based on most recent polling leading up to the registration day. Karger met the mark: achieving    1 percent support in four polls leading up to the debate (including a Fox News poll from April) and 2 percent support in a Harris Interactive poll from early August, in which he tied with former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is no longer in the race.

According to Karger’s campaign, after Karger met Fox’s requirement, the network “changed its criteria in order to exclude Karger.” Last month, Fox News Vice President of News Michael Clemente told The Des Moines Register that Karger did not qualify for the debate because the polls he cited were not good enough.

On Aug. 18, the day Karger filed his complaint with the FEC, Karger sent a letter (PDF) to Rupert Murdoch, president and CEO of News Corporation, which owns Fox; Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes; and Fox News Vice President of News Michael Clemente. In the letter, he explained why he filed the complaint and accused the executives of changing their “pre-established, objective criteria” as soon as he submitted his Aug. 5, 2011, letter proving he met the requirements for the Ames debate. Karger told the executives he had submitted another letter on Aug. 8 and tried to contact the network various times to learn why he had been turned away from the debate. But, he said, he received no response from Fox, and prompted a petition to let him into the debate.

From Karger’s letter to Fox:

Since I was not allowed to participate, the debate no longer appears exempt from federal campaign contribution laws. That could mean that Fox News Channel has made illegal in-kind corporate contributions to the eight debate participants of upwards of $100 million.

Two hours of free primetime television to an audience of 5.1 million viewers, weeks of media coverage before and after the debate, facilities rental, the construction of the debate stage, salaries, travel, insurance, equipment, the filing room, the spin room and so much more would all amount to in-kind contributions to the eight presidential candidates.

Karger said he requested an expedited investigation with the FEC because the next Fox News debate is on Sept. 22 in Orlando, Fla., and he hopes to participate.


1 Comment

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Comment posted September 5, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

Since I was not allowed to participate, the debate no longer appears exempt from federal campaign contribution laws.

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