When I was a child in Jamaica, we used to call it a bulla. Not the molasses, ginger-and-nutmeg cake, though. It was a different kind of bulla and it was certainly no treat. It was a verbal slap in the face. I think Americans call it a “put-down.”
Why did we call it a bulla? Beats me. I have no idea.
Anyway, the bulla I’m talking about is the one Fox News just got from a New Hampshire newspaper.
The decision makers at the self-styled “news” channel took it upon themselves to limit the number of Republican presidential candidates in the first primary debate. They would let only the top 10 in national opinion polls participate. That would “winnow down” the unmanageable number of candiddates, according to the Fox pundits.
Not so fast, said Joe McQuaid, publisher of the Manchester Union-Leader.
He threatened to stage a competing debate on August 6, the night of the first debate, for the candidates who didn’t make the Fox News top-ten list.
“What Fox is attempting to do, and is actually bragging about doing, is a real threat to the first-in-the-nation primary,” McQuaid said. “Fox boasts that it will ‘winnow’ the field of candidates before New Hampshire gets to do so. That isn’t just bad for New Hampshire, it’s bad for the presidential selection process by limiting the field to only the best-known few with the biggest bankrolls. Why the RNC and, especially, its New Hampshire representative, Steve Duprey, would defend this and be a party to it is baffling.”
Baffling indeed. And not just to Joe McQuaid. To a lot of other people, including 56 prominent New Hampshire Republicans who sent an open protest letter to Fox and the party’s national committee.
Faced with the New Hampshire revolt, Fox News backed down.
Now, candidates who don’t poll among the top ten will be invited to participate in a televised debate earlier on the same day as the main debate.
You might be wondering why Fox News gets to set the rules for the Republican Party’s presidential debates. But nature abhors a vacuum, and the party has an obvious vacuum at the top. So, a TV channel – with a sharp elbow from a newspaper – gets to fill the vacuum.
In Republican politics, it’s no longer the party – or its membership – that calls the shots. Now, it’s billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, talk radio loudmouths like Rush Limbaugh, Fox News – and a feisty newspaper publisher in New Hampshire.
Illustration above by DonkeyHotey depicts 2016 Republican candidates. Click on it to enlarge it.