Election 2020

Libertarians to Fox: Stop Showing Debate Commercials with Only Clinton and Trump

(AP Photo/Scott Morgan)

The Libertarian Party called on Fox News to quit running debate preview commercials that only show Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as the contenders.

The first presidential debate, moderated by NBC’s Lester Holt, will be on Sept. 26, followed by a vice presidential debate on Oct. 4, another presidential debate co-moderated by ABC’s Martha Raddatz and CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Oct. 9, and a Fox News debate moderated by Chris Wallace on Oct. 19.

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced last month that it will rely on five polls — ABC-Washington Post, CBS-New York Times, CNN-Opinion Research Corporation, Fox News, and NBC-Wall Street Journal — to determine if third-party candidates clear at least 15 percent for debate inclusion by mid-month in the first go-round.

“It has come to our attention that Fox News is running misleading ads for the first presidential debate scheduled for September 26, which show just two participants: Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. The Commission on Presidential Debates has not yet announced whether it will include Libertarian Gov. Gary Johnson in debates,” Libertarian National Committee political director Carla Howell said in a statement Monday evening.

Howell said it’s their understanding that the CPD “may include Gov. Johnson if he comes close.”

Johnson has mostly hovered in the single digits; he’s at 12 percent in a new NBC poll and 7 percent in a new CNN/ORC poll.

“Governors Johnson and Weld are polling higher than any Libertarian Party presidential ticket in history, more than covering the spread between the old party candidates and they have racked up endorsements from scores of prominent politicians and luminaries in various fields,” Howell said.

“…This is remarkable, especially considering the light media coverage Johnson has received compared with the saturation coverage that the media has showered on the Republican and Democrat.”

The party is also arguing that Johnson’s endorsement by VP nominee Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D-Va.) hometown paper should mean something.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch, which has endorsed all GOP candidates since 1980, called Johnson “a man of good integrity, apparently normal ego and sound ideas.”

“Why not take this chance to reject the binary choice between Clinton and Trump that was created by our two-party system? We strongly urge the debate commission to invite Johnson onto the stage to give voters an opportunity to hear his positions, to evaluate his temperament, and, perhaps most important, to compare him with the candidates nominated by the two traditional parties,” wrote the paper’s editorial board.

“We are confident that, if given the opportunity to make his case, Gary Johnson will persuade millions of Americans that he is the most capable and ethical candidate running this year. We endorse him and look forward to a rejuvenating surprise in November — a new birth of freedom.”

The Libertarian Party also highlighted an August Quinnipiac University poll showing 62 percent of likely voters agreeing that Johnson should be included in the debate.

“Pretending Gary Johnson is excluded when no decision has been made misleads viewers and does a grave disservice to voters who are hungry for an alternative,” Howell said.

“The Libertarian Party requests that Fox News immediately pull all misleading ads, and refrain from making any public statements, which give the impression that only two candidates will be in the debates. We hope for similarly fair and truthful representations of the debates from all media outlets covering the election and urge them to step up their coverage of our two very qualified candidates so every voter can make an informed choice.”