LA Times columnist compared Dems' refusal to participate in Fox News debate to Nixon's enemies list

››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

In a June 25 Los Angeles Times column on the decision by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY), Chris Dodd (CT), and Barack Obama (IL), former Sen. John Edwards (NC), and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson not to participate in a Democratic presidential debate co-sponsored by Fox News, Scott Collins, who writes about the television industry for the Times, asserted: "When politicians, one of whom may very well be the next president of the United States, start using their platforms to lob missiles at news-gathering organizations they don't like, it's hard to see how that's much different than President Nixon's infamous 'enemies list.' "

In a memo to Nixon advisers H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman in 1971 about the list, then-White House counsel John W. Dean wrote, "[W]e can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies." A July 9, 1973, Time magazine article on the Senate Watergate Committee's investigation reported:

The most bizarrely captivating documents that John W. Dean III turned over to the Ervin committee last week were the ones he took from the White House file labeled "Opponents' List and Political Enemies Project." These lists of varying length, compiled in the summer of 1971, contained the names of as many as 200 politicians, journalists, labor officials, entertainers, scholars and businessmen and Democratic campaign contributors whom the White House staff considered to be the Administration's prime domestic enemies.

The project never seems to have got off the ground, but the idea, as Dean put it in a memorandum to Presidential Advisers H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman at the time, was to find ways in which "we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies." The lists, most of which apparently emanated from Charles W. Colson and his staff, included a bewildering jumble of names both famous and obscure.

From Collins' June 25 column in the Los Angeles Times:

It's become unfashionable in most media circles to stick up in any way for Fox News Channel, so it's not surprising that the decision by Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama to nix an upcoming Democratic primary debate, a joint production of Fox News and the Congressional Black Caucus, has generally been greeted with deafening silence among editorial writers and other professional fulminators.

So it needs to be said: The Democrats are dead wrong not to debate on Fox News. And it's hypocritical for the supposedly nonpartisan media to stand by and do nothing while a TV network -- even one with an obvious rightward tilt whose fairness and balance deserve every bit of the scrutiny they're getting -- is trashed by mega-million-dollar political campaigns in the heat of a White House primary battle. When politicians, one of whom may very well be the next president of the United States, start using their platforms to lob missiles at news-gathering organizations they don't like, it's hard to see how that's much different than President Nixon's infamous "enemies list."

Yes, yes, this columnist realizes he's nothing more than a deluded lackey for Fox News chief (and former Nixon advisor) Roger Ailes -- although when this column accurately pointed out Fox News' softening ratings last year, Slate's Mickey Kaus and conservative bloggers suggested I was carrying water for CNN.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
Los Angeles Times
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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