Something will be missing from the media-hosted presidential and vice presidential debates starting Friday night: Fox News Channel. It's another blow for Fox, which was boycotted by Democrats during the primaries. Now the conservative Media Research Center is coming to Fox's defense with a last-minute demand: Give Fox a voice. Armed with a review of the 35 primary season debates that gave Fox the highest marks for asking hardball questions of Republicans, the center calls on the Commission on Presidential Debates to include a Fox questioner. Maybe Chris Wallace, for example, who scored a recent Sunday show interview with Sen. Barack Obama. Yes, ABC is also missing from the debate hosts (public TV's Jim Lehrer, who will host Friday at Ole Miss; PBS's Gwen Ifill; NBC's Tom Brokaw; and CBS's Bob Schieffer), but ABC played a big role during the primaries. What are the chances that the commission will change its plans, though? Very doubtful, says an insider.
But maybe conservatives and Republicans shouldn't fear the mainstream media hosts. The Media Research Center found that the press was remarkably fair and neutral in its primary debate questions. Of the 1,332 questions asked during the primaries, 42 percent were framed minus an ideological bias. Now, that's a headline.