***Update: MSNBC just reported (8:12 pm) that the Nevada Supreme Court ruled to vacate the injunction against airing a debate without Kucinich. Another blow to democracy.***
****Update #2: MSNBC personality and failing talk show host Tucker Carlson characterized the issue as one of "judges deciding who gets to be on TV" and the company is calling it a First Amendment issue. In other words, NBC has the First Amendment right to decide the political discourse in this country. Their speech is protected from our right to know where the candidates stand. Another blow to the Constitution.****
--Sending a signal to the American people that it has the right to select the presidential candidates presented to them, NBC today appealed a court decision that would have barred tonight's Democratic presidential debate if the media corporation excluded Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
In early January, according to the New York Times, Kucinich met the conditions the media giant set for being included in tonight's debate to be aired on its cable network MSNBC [and locally on KVBC in LAS Vegas on air [updated info: 11:20 pm]. After the results in Iowa and New Hampshire caused Richardson, Dodd, and Biden to exit the race, however, NBC arbitrarily altered its criteria and announced its intention to exclude the Ohio representative.
Kucinich sued. And he won, arguing that not only was NBC in effect endorsing three candidates by doing so, they were in breach of their contract by arbitrarily changing their criteria.
For its part, NBC argued, according to the Times, that it has every right to arbitrarily set criteria for who is included in debates, implying of course that it has a right to tell voters who they should vote for and what issues should be discussed.
Nevada District Court Judge Charles Thompson sided with Kucinich and issued an order against airing the debate unless Kucinich is included.
NBC's smarmy political director Chuck Todd is quoted as saying the decision to arbitrarily exclude Rep. Kucinich was “a good faith editorial choice of a privately-owned cable network to limit debate participants based on the status of their campaigns.”
In other words, Todd is admitting that NBC's business practices and editorial choices are related to General Electric's ownership of the company he works for? What other interpretation of these remarks could there be? NBC wanted to exclude Kucinich because in their editorial judgment Kucinich is "bad TV." And TV is all about the dollars, right, not debate, discussion, issues?
If Todd isn't fibbing when he further claimed that the decision to exclude Kucinich, and, presumably, the subsequent legal battle to have the court's injunction against the exclusion overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court, was not intended to reflect the corporation's political bias, then it was a business decision.
NBC may be privately owned, but it doesn't own the airwaves, and it doesn't own the political process in this country. NBC has no right, private multinational corporation or not, to decide who will stand on a stage and discuss the issues facing working families.
Todd's statement and NBC's actions reflect the sort of media elitism that disgusts most Americans.