The Hollywood Reporter’s Paul J. Gough writes about the behind-the-scenes legal scuffle that took place in the final hours before Saturday’s ABC News/Facebook debates. Rep. Dennis Kucinich forced an impromptu hearing in New Hampshire, arguing the Democratic debate (and his exclusion from it) violated FCC rules about fair and open coverage.
ABC News President David Westin, a former lawyer, argued with the judge over the phone that that the network had given Kucinich his due and the Kucinich camp had known about the restrictions since Dec. 17. A few minutes later, and a few minutes before the GOP debate kicked off, the judge ruled in favor of ABC.
The rules may have been set in stone to qualify for the debate, but during the debate the rules were significantly more lax. Reactions varied. The Weekly Standard’s Stephen F. Hayes called the debate “one of the best of this campaign,” writing, “Charlie Gibson will inevitably take a lot of grief for his lenient enforcement of time limits and debate rules. He should be praised for it.” As TVNewser wrote yesterday, The NY Times’ Alessandra Stanley was not won over.