Moral Low Ground

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Larry King to Moderate Tonight’s Third-Party Presidential Debate in Chicago

October 23, 2012 by Brett Wilkins in Elections, White House with 0 Comments

Editor’s note: Moral Low Ground has endorsed Green Party candidate Jill Stein for president.

Former longtime CNN host Larry King will moderate Tuesday’s third-party presidential debate in Chicago, giving American voters a rare opportunity to size up some of the alternatives to President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

The following candidates will be participating in tonight’s debate, which is sponsored by the Free and Equal Elections FoundationRocky Anderson (Justice Party); Virgil Goode (Constitution Party); Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party) and Jill Stein (Green Party).

Despite the marquee name moderating tonight’s debate, no major US television network will air it. The following channels will broadcast the debate, which begins at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time: Al-Jazeera EnglishC-SPANLinkTV and Russia Today. It will also be streamed live on Free and Equal’s website as well as Ora TV, which runs Larry King’s online talk show.

The debate will give American voters a chance to get to know national presidential candidates ignored by the US mainstream corporate media and excluded from the Obama-Romney debates by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a 501 (c)(3) corporation established by the Democratic and Republican parties and sponsored by corporations and lobbyist groups including Anheuser-Busch, Southwest Airlines and the International Bottled Water Association. Mike McCurry, CPD’s Democratic co-chair, is a high-power DC lobbyist whose clients include Bain Capital, Lockheed Martin, Anheuser-Busch and the US Chamber of Commerce. Frank Fahrenkopf Jr, the GOP co-chair, heads a lobbying coalition of major casinos and also lobbies for Wall Street firms Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

CPD has not allowed a third-party candidate to participate in a presidential election since Ross Perot joined George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton on stage in 1992. Since 2000, CPD has required that candidates show at least 15 percent support in national polls as a prerequisite for debate participation. Critics argue that this prerequisite means that while Democrats and Republicans will always qualify for debates, third-party candidates, who face enormous obstacles to ballot access, fundraising and name recognition (many of those obstacles a direct result of malicious Democratic/Republican action) will almost never qualify for participation.

Richard Marin, a pollster for the Washington Post, wrote that the 15 percent prerequisite is “absurdly high.”

Former New Mexico governor and 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has filed an anti-trust lawsuit in a bid to gain access to the debates.

“There is nothing remotely surprising in the fact that a private organization created and run by the Republican and Democratic parties has only invited Republican and Democratic candidates to their debates,” Ron Nielson, a spokesman for Gov. Johnson, told Russia Today. “It is a bit more disturbing that the national news media has chosen to play the two-party game, when a full one-third of the American people do not necessarily identify with either of those two parties.”

“Someone has to stand up and call this what it is– a rigged system designed entirely to protect and perpetuate the two-party duopoly,” Nielson added.

Larry King, the venerable host of CNN’s “Larry King Live” from 1985-2010, called hosting tonight’s debate “a truly exciting opportunity” and told RT that he “appreciates the importance of providing a platform to those with real alternative visions for our country’s future.”

Free and Equal co-founder Christina Tobin said Americans deserve a “real debate.”

“The previous debates between President Obama and Governor Romney have failed to address the issues that really concern everyday Americans,” Tobin said. “From foreign policy to the economy, to taboo subjects like our diminishing civil liberties and the drug war, Americans deserve a real debate, real solutions and real electoral options.”

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