Last week, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) revealed that Fox News is excluding him and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) from their New Hampshire debate on Sunday, arguing that “it had limited space in its studio — a souped-up bus.”
The AP did not specify “what types of polls” Fox was relying on “and if there had to be consistent double-digit results.” As Josh Marshall has noted, Paul is beating Thompson by an average of 5 points in New Hampshire polls. Additionally, Paul raised nearly $20 million in the last quarter of 2007 — roughly the same amount as Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).
Bill O’Reilly defended Fox’s decision on Wednesday, saying he’d “do the same thing.” He also revealed that the decision was based on “national poll numbers.” Watch it:
Though O’Reilly noted that “both Paul and Hunter will appear on January 10th in the Fox-sponsored South Carolina debate,” the decision to include Thompson rather than Paul in the New Hampshire debate is drawing particular criticism. Conservatives and pundits say it appears as though Fox is censoring Paul:
“Fox News itself apparently wants to limit the GOP discussion to variations on a neocon theme of perpetual war for perpetual big government.” [Conservative author Richard Viguerie]
“It raises the possibility that this is an ideological decision.” [Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania]
“The Paul snub exposes censorship of competitive voices.” [Libertarian Party director Shane Cory]
“The pivotal debates before the first statewide vote in the 2008 election cycle is not the time to be voting people off the island, no matter how much they may want a more free-wheeling exchange,” [New Hampshire Republican State Chairman Fergus Cullen]
This isn’t the first time conservatives who disagree with Paul’s politics have denied him a forum. In October, the popular conservative blog RedState banned Paul’s supporters from discussing Paul in “any way shape, form or fashion.”
UPDATE: On CNN’s The Situation Room, Fred Thompson said, “I don’t expect that we’re going to be very competitive in New Hampshire.” But he’s still in the Fox News debate.