The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Group Calls for Making Presidential Debates Contract Public


Executive director of the group Open Debates,
Farah said today: "Sen. Lindsay Graham of the McCain campaign and Rep.
Rahm Emanuel of the Obama campaign have negotiated a detailed contract
that dictates the terms of the 2008 presidential debates, including who
can participate and the structure of the formats. The Commission on
Presidential Debates has agreed to implement the debate contract.

"The Commission on Presidential Debates has refused to release the
debate contract to the public. It is vital that the public has full
access to information in a sound democracy. Unfortunately, the
Commission on Presidential Debates is more concerned with the partisan
interests of the two candidates than the democratic interests of the
public, and it has denied voters access to critical information about
our most important political forums.

"The Commission on Presidential Debates was created by and for the
Republican and Democratic Parties. In 1986, the Republican and
Democratic National Committees ratified an agreement 'to take over the
presidential debates' from the League of Women Voters. Fifteen months
later, the Republican Party's then-chair Frank Fahrenkopf and the
Democratic Party's then-chair Paul Kirk incorporated the Commission on
Presidential Debates. Fahrenkopf and Kirk still co-chair the Commission
on Presidential Debates, and every four years, it implements and
conceals contracts jointly drafted by the Republican and Democratic

"During the last presidential election cycle, after pressure from Open
Debates, the Commission on Presidential Debates released the 32-page 2004 debate contract."

Farah wrote the book No Debate.

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.