Kucinich brings CNN debate beef to FCC

by Sabrina Eaton, Cleveland.com

After failing to qualify for a Democratic presidential candidates debate on Monday in South Carolina, Cleveland Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich has filed a Federal Communications Commission complaint against host network CNN.

The complaint accuses the network of "arbitrarily establishing criteria" for the presidential debate, and asks the FCC to order Kucinich's participation.

CNN political director Sam Feist says there was no effort to exclude Kucinich, and that the network "established criteria to select candidates showing significant strength around the country". Participants in the debate have to place in the top three in an early presidential contest recognized by the Democratic National Committee, and also score five percent or better in a national poll, he said.

"Congressman Kucinich did not meet the criteria," Feist said.

Kucinich's complaint says that the Cleveland congressman scored 4 percent in two polls completed last week by CBS News/New York Times and by the Pew Research Center, and claims the network came up with its criteria to "specifically exclude the diverse and anti-war voice of Mr. Kucinich and his grass-roots supporters."

Television networks stopped inviting Kucinich to presidential debates after he fared poorly in early contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan and Nevada. His past legal efforts to force inclusion haven't been successful. The candidate filed an FCC complaint against ABC earlier this month when he was excluded from a candidates' debate in New Hampshire, and last week unsuccessfully petitioned Nevada courts to force MSNBC to include him in a debate.

In other news, Kucinich announced a California campaign swing by his wife, Elizabeth, as well as his endorsement by the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), a progressive advocacy organization based in California and well known for its work in the areas of civil and human rights.

article originally published at http://blog.cleveland.com/openers/2008/01/_after_failing_to_qualify.html.

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