[UPDATE: Another disappointment: Mike Gravel plans to appear. Joe Biden will as well (but who gives a rip about him?).]

Sorry Dennis, you just lost a ton of respect from me on this one. After Edwards, Obama and Clinton withdrew from the September Fox News debate sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus, the long-shot 2008 presidential candidate has picked face time over principle.

The right wing propaganda machine has done nothing but play off of race whenever possible and the CBC Institute has no business jumping in bed with Fox, something I pointed out here. Dennis Kucinich (poorly) rationalizes his decision:

“Certainly many Fox viewers are not part of the traditional Democratic base,” Kucinich said, “but they have a right to hear from the Democratic candidates and we as candidates have an obligation to reach out to them. Families who view Fox News have lost loved ones in Iraq, lost their jobs to NAFTA, and lost their homes to medical bills, just as have the viewers of other networks.”

  Kucinich said the refusal of the three senators to participate in the debate raises questions about whether or not they really have the ability to be President.

  “First Sens. Clinton and Edwards were tricked by George Bush into voting for the war. Then they and Sen. Obama voted most of the time to support funding the war. All three have said all options are on the table with Iran, meaning they are ready to go to war against Iran. This raises questions about their judgment, about who they are, who they represent? African-Americans – and Fox viewers – have a right to know.”

Color of Change launched a campaign to let the CBC Institute know that this partnership with Fox is not only unacceptable, but embarrassing. The CBCI has continued to make excuses for its partnership, but the bottom line is that Fox News has a horrid history of racist statements that have gone unchallenged. Edwards, Obama and Clinton knew better than to enable this network’s bigotry.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the chairman of the Institute has said: “The CBC Institute is committed to presenting the presidential candidates to the broadest audience possible. Collaborating with Fox News provides an opportunity to take this presidential election to millions of households.”

Why on earth would this organization sidle up to Fox, which calls black churches a cult, implies that Senator Barack Obama is a terrorist with its bogus “Madrassa/terrorist” story, and where Mary Matalin called black civil rights leaders attending Coretta Scott King’s funeral racist? Only on Faux News could you see host John Gibson called for the birth of more white babies because he’s afraid of the country will be overrun with minorities:

Has anyone in the Kucinich campaign watched the above? The CBCI is out of touch, and it’s clear Kucinich is getting bad advice.

After the flip, an open letter that will be sent to the Edwards, Obama, and Clinton campaigns, thanking them for not legitimizing the GOP propaganda outlet known as Fox News and refusing to participate in the debate.So far a loose coalition of bloggers of color, including yours truly, have signed on.

Dear [candidate],

Your decision last month not to attend the debate sponsored by Fox News and the Congressional Black Caucus institute demonstrated truly principled leadership.

Now, a group of CBC members, led by Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI), is asking you to reverse that decision. But the truth about Fox and its partnership with the CBC institute has not changed. A Fox-CBCI partnership will use the brand of the CBC?perhaps the most prominent and powerful Black political institution in America?to lend legitimacy to a propaganda network that regularly denigrates black people, black culture and black institutions. This partnership is bad for black America, and it is a huge mistake.

Since before the debate partnership was announced publicly, black bloggers, community newspapers, columnists, and radio hosts have expressed outrage that such a partnership would even be considered. Over 16,000 members of ColorOfChange.org reached out to individual CBC members and the CBC institute in hopes that they would be responsive and accountable to the community they purport to represent. But the leadership of the CBC institute has continued to willfully ignore the voices of black Americans, and amazingly, also dismissed voices of dissent from within the CBC itself (nearly a quarter of CBC members have expressed opposition to the debate, either publicly or privately). Now, more than ever, it?s obvious that the CBC?s leadership is painfully out of step with black America.

It has been suggested that by skipping this debate, you are missing a valuable opportunity to speak on issues of concern to black Americans. However, the CBC institute debate broadcast by CNN as well as Tavis Smiley?s debates on PBS provide similar opportunities to address these issues without sending the message that you are willing to validate a network that is consistently hostile to black Americans and black political interests.

You did the right thing by rejecting Fox. We applaud your leadership and will continue to support your decision.

Signed (so far):
Here’s the list of signers so far.  Please let me know if I’ve forgotten anyone, or if you’d like your name written differently.

Brandon Quante White, The SuperSpade
Garlin Dorell Gilchrist II, The SuperSpade
Jill Tubman, Jack and Jill Politics
Wayne Bennett, Field Negro
Bruce Dixon, Black Agenda Report
Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report
Leutisha Stills, Sr. Correspondent & Chief Researcher, CBCMonitor
dnA, Too Sense
Pam Spaulding, Pam’s House Blend
Chris Rabb, Afro-Netizen.com
Rikyrah, Mirror on America
Earl Dunovant, Prometheus 6
Margaret Kimberley, Freedom Rider
James Rucker, ColorOfChange.org

Color of Change is calling for other bloggers to sign on to the letter; email “gabriel AT colorofchange DOT org.”

* Congressional Black Caucus members split over alliance with Fox on debate
* Jesse Jackson sells out to CBC on the Fox debate

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding