For the first time in history, the three Democratic members of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) sought to penalize a media’s debate sponsorship in a secret vote over whether Fox News deliberately aided certain Republican presidential candidates.
The May 26 secret vote revolved around a complaint received by the FEC from an unnamed GOP candidate alleging the cable giant’s debate format for its August 6, 2015, debate, originally intended to be a 10-person debate, equaled an illegal corporate contribution when Fox altered the format to a two-tier arrangement.
After weighing the complaint, three commissioners, Democrats Ellen Weintraub, Ann Ravel, and Steven Walther, found such a contribution had been made. However, members Ann Ravel an Steven Walther moved to punish Fox; Weintraub voted to dismiss the matter.
Brought to a vote in front of the six-member commission, the panel was deadlocked when the three Republican commissioners voted to block the proposal to level penalties, as any SEC enforcement proceedings require a minimum of four votes.
One commission member, Republican Lee Goodman said he was “astonished” a debate format ever became subject to FEC consideration.
Describing Democratic attempts to punish Fox as a “move toward censorship,” Goodman released a statement which read: “All press organizations should be concerned when the government asserts regulatory authority to punish and censor news coverage.”
In regards to the debate in question, Goodman said there is “no practical or logical difference” between hosting 17 candidates in a debate or interviewing same candidates, and that “editorial decisions” about rules of a debate should be solely at the discretion of the host network.
[Washington Examiner] [Fox News]