Reason: Growing Media Chorus Says Presidential Debates Are ‘Rigged’

ImageFrom Matt Welch of on August 30:

“Yesterday, for a second time, the Chicago Tribune editorialized in favor of letting Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson into the three presidential debates scheduled between Sept. 26 and Oct 19. ‘The hurdle in Johnson’s way,’ the editorial board correctly observed, ‘is the terms set by the private, nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates.’

“Those terms, first announced last October and then further clarified two weeks ago, include averaging 15 percent in five pre-selected national polls as of ‘mid-September.’ While the CPD’s five polls have heretofore been good to Johnson, averaging 10 percent compared to an overall national average of around 8.5 percent, it’s also true that the 15 percent threshold itself is an arbitrary creation of an organization created and staffed by the Democratic and Republican parties, and is so high that, if applied retroactively (the CPD was established in 1987 and began applying the 15 percent criteria in 2000), would have excluded every third-party candidate of the last 44 years with the exception of Ross Perot in 1992. ‘American voters would benefit from hearing [Johnson’s] views,’ the Tribune concluded. ‘Let’s respect the wishes of a dissatisfied electorate and open up the first general election debate to Johnson. Once on that stage, it will be on him to make his mark.’

“The World’s Greatest Newspaper is hardly alone in casting righteous aspersions in the general direction of the Commission on Presidential Debates. The L.A. Times editorialized three weeks back that blocking Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein ‘would be a disservice to voters,’ and contribute to the perception that “the debate system is rigged” by the participants: ‘Rules that limit participation to Democrats and Republicans, while excluding candidates who have a small-but-not-zero chance of winning might understandably be construed as self-dealing.’ And the Charlotte Observer was even more blunt: ‘The election isn’t rigged, but the presidential debates seem to be.'”

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