Three’s company at Nev. debates

NBC limited political discourse by uninviting Kucinich to the Nevada debates.

The Nevada Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that NBC did not have to include candidate Dennis Kucinich in its Democratic presidential debate, which took place just an hour after the ruling. The ruling upheld NBC’s right as a private company to include or exclude whomever it wishes in a debate that is aired on its stations. It is also a reminder to the public that it is the major media outlets who decide which voices and opinions we are entitled to hear.

The decision to exclude Kucinich came after NBC hastily changed its criteria for participation in the debate after other candidates dropped out of the race. Under the previous criteria, Kucinich and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson had been invited to participate. It was only after Richardson dropped out of the race that NBC changed the criteria to include only the candidates who finished in the top three in the New Hampshire primary or the Iowa caucuses, thus eliminating Kucinich.

It appears as though NBC wanted to include Richardson in the debate and had to include Kucinich only because he ranked ahead of Richardson in many national polls. NBC’s rational for snubbing Kucinich is that they were using “journalistic discretion.” One has to wonder whether Kucinich’s vehement resistance to war, opposition to the nuclear waste dump in Yucca Mountain and criticism of corporate power seemed too offensive to NBC and owner General Electric, which is a major defense contractor and a player in nuclear energy.

Kucinich is also yet to appear in NBC’s “Meet the Candidates” series of the television program “Meet the Press,” where six other Democratic candidates have been featured.

Kucinich’s opinions and platform differs greatly from the three Democratic front-runners, and his presence would only improve the political discourse between the candidates. Even if he does not have a viable chance at the nomination, it is important that controversial subjects be brought up in debates.

Major media conglomerations have immense control over which candidates we see and what opinions we receive. Privately owned media companies like NBC should not be the sole decider of who is a viable candidate and who is unimportant to the American people.