Remember 2000, when Ralph Nader was not only not allowed to debate with Al Gore and George Bush, but wasn't allowed in the building -- not even allowed in a second, adjoining hall in the building, not even when he had a ticket? Well, we have a replay of that proud moment in our history going on now, with Hillary's Senate primary opponent Tasini being shut out of debates by New York's NY1 TV channel (owned by TimeWarner) which is insisting that qualified candidates not only reach 5 percent support in the polls (Tasini is at 13 percent and rising) but raise or spend $500,000. Said NY1 Vice President Steve Paulus: "All Tasini would need is for each [New York state registered voter] to send him a dollar. Right now, with the money he's raised, he does not represent the party he claims to represent."
So a war chest is now the standard for representation? In order to get on television, you need a dollar from every voter? (Are we electing a Senator or holding a Girl Scout raffle? What the fuck?) And this is decided by . . . an executive for a corporate television station?
This morning Buzzflash guest contributor Jeff Cohen connects the dots.
The cover story in the new issue of TIME, the flagship publication of the Time Warner media empire, informs readers that Hillary Clinton has "virtually nonexistent opposition for her senate seat."
Hold that phrase in your head. Because at another outpost of the Time Warner empire, decisions have been made that help ensure Sen. Clinton will have "virtually nonexistent opposition." Time Warner's NY1 TV news channel ("the CNN of New York")adamantly refuses to host a Democratic New York Senate debate. Despite protests over its decision, NY1 says it is giving incumbent Clinton a no-debate free pass because her antiwar challenger, union leader Jonathan Tasini, has not raised enough money; the channel arbitrarily set the bar at a half-million dollars. This despite the fact that Tasini has reached 13% in polls. (NY1 first announced its no-debate ruling just as Ned Lamont -- given no chance months ago -- was defeating pro-war incumbent Joe Lieberman in Connecticut's primary.)
Ironically, NY1 has already hosted and televised a Democratic New York gubernatorial debate between frontrunner Eliot Spitzer and a Democratic challenger who was at only 10% in the polls. But that candidate had raised about $6 million. So spending millions to get just 10% in popular support was rewarded by Time Warner's channel, while building a more effective grassroots campaign, largely of volunteers, was punished. (One wonders how much of the money went to NY1.)
Did I mention that Time Warner's PAC is one of the many corporate PACs that underwrites Hillary Clinton's reelection campaign against the "virtually nonexistent opposition"? Or that conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch has also raised funds for her reelection? Or that Hillary Clinton doesn't criticize a media system now dominated by a handful of (JonBenet-obsessed) entertainment conglomerates -- while Tasini wants to see those conglomerates broken up? [emphasis added]
And there you have it. Hillary is the TimeWarner candidate, not the people's. And, in a bout of unintentional honesty, TimeWarner has admitted what it thinks elections are about: Money.