Las Vegas Sun

July 22, 2014

Currently: 98° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Kucinich hard to silence, NBC learns

But network, ordered to let him in debate, will try again anyway

2008 Caucus Coverage

At A Glance: Tonight's Debate

Tonight’s Democratic debate begins at 6 at the Cashman Center Theatre, 850 North Las Vegas Blvd. The two-hour event will air live on MSNBC and will be rebroadcast with a Spanish-language translation on Telemundo at midnight. Both networks are owned by NBC.

The moderator is “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams. Joining him will be Tim Russert, host of NBC’s Sunday morning talk show “Meet the Press.” The format includes questions submitted by viewers.

Voter Breakdown & Contributions



See the interactive graphic »

More on the Candidates

A District Court judge Monday ordered NBC to include Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich in tonight’s debate in Las Vegas after the candidate complained that the network had breached its contract and undermined the public interest by barring him from the stage.

Judge Charles Thompson said he would file an injunction to stop the 6 p.m. debate if it does not include Kucinich. NBC said it will appeal today, setting the stage for more last-minute legal maneuvering before the debate, which is scheduled to air on the local NBC affiliate and on MSNBC, an NBC cable network.

Bill McGaha, the Ohio congressman’s Las Vegas attorney, said the network should “let the people decide who they want to vote for. Don’t exclude a candidate. Let the voters do that. That’s what the process is for.”

According to the lawsuit, Kucinich was invited Wednesday to participate in the debate with the three front-runners New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. Kucinich qualified because he placed among the top four Democratic presidential candidates in a national news media poll conducted after the Iowa caucus, McGaha said.

On Friday, an MSNBC official withdrew the invitation, saying the criteria to participate had changed and the cable network wanted only the top three candidates, court documents said.

McGaha argued that MSNBC had breached its contract by withdrawing the invitation, an opinion that UNLV law professor Jeff Stempel said sounds reasonable.

“MSNBC invited and then disinvited Kucinich,” Stempel said.

Since there is no monetary award that can compensate for the breach, Stempel said, “the only thing that cures the breach is to let him in” the debate.

McGaha also argued that NBC had undermined the Federal Communications Act, and therefore violated its obligation to the public, by excluding Kucinich. The act requires broadcasters to provide a reasonable opportunity for conflicting points of view to be included in discussions of public importance, McGaha said. The lawsuit argued that Kucinich’s anti-war voice was being silenced.

“The debate is not a true presidential primary debate without including all credible candidates, but instead is effectively an endorsement of the candidates selected by NBC,” the lawsuit said.

Jim Rogers, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education and owner of the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, said he does not know the specific laws that dictate the Kucinich case but he is not surprised by the judge’s ruling. Many rules dictate how networks run presidential debates, he said.

The judge’s ruling is scheduled to be released this morning.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

No trusted comments have been posted.