UPDATE: Politico's Smith claimed "cowards" line "was tongue in cheek" -- but few readers seemed to get joke
Politico senior political writer Ben Smith posted an update to his April 9 Politico.com weblog entry , claiming that he was being "tongue in cheek" when he asserted, as Media Matters for America noted , that Fox News can "confirm to its viewers that Democrats are ... cowards" after Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), and former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) declined to participate in a presidential debate  sponsored by Fox News and the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute.
UPDATE: I've gotten some emails wondering whether the "confirm" line above was tongue in cheek. Um, yes. This is a win for Fox in the sense that it gives the channel more fodder for its base, not in the sense that (did people really read it this way?) that it confirms the ultimate and essential truth that all Democrats are cowards. (Do I need to flag that as a joke too?)
However, it would appear that several readers did, in fact, interpret his entry as "confirm[ing] the ultimate and essential truth that all Democrats are cowards," judging from the comments they posted in response to Smith's weblog post.
For example, reader "jonsey" opined:
Liberals will only appear on venues where their scripts are accepted beforehand. No hard questions, nonsensical anwsers [sic] abound. Hillary screens all of her appearances to be rid of any free-thinkers that might ask her a question that cannot be answered by her BS cliche-speak. Cowards -- all of them. No wonder Al-Queda [sic] and the rest of th [sic] jihadists vote Democrat!
An anonymous reader commented:
See? A woman can be just as cowarldy [sic] as a man! I am woman, hear me ROAR!!! Thank you, Madam Hillary....
Reader "Shanester" similarly chimed in:
If she can't go on (or take on) Fox News. How will she ever take on Iran or terrorist organizations? Answer: She can't. Coward.