A Democratic presidential candidates debate planned this summer in Reno was canceled Friday, according to party officials.
The debate, scheduled for Aug. 14, was called off after Fox News President Roger Ailes made a joke Thursday comparing one of the Democratic candidates, Sen. Barack Obama, to Osama bin Laden, because their names sound somewhat similar.
"In light of his comments, we have concluded that it is not possible to hold a presidential debate that will focus on our candidates and are therefore canceling our August debate," according to a letter to Fox from U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev, and Tom Collins, chairman of the Nevada Democratic Party.
The text of the letter was sent by Jon Summers, a spokesman for Reid.
The decision to co-host the debate with Fox News caused outrage among liberal bloggers and e-news outlets since it was announced last month. Earlier this week, representatives of candidate former Sen. John Edwards announced he wouldn't be attending the Reno forum, in part because Fox News is involved with it. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson bowed out Friday, according to The Associated Press.
Also opposed to having the network is the Carson City Democratic Central Committee. Members approved a resolution this week spelling out their opinion and some reasons why.
"It's like dealing with the devil. Fox is a propaganda machine run by Rupert Murdoch," said Danny Coyle, a member of the committee's executive board and the person who brought up the issue. "To even think about making this arrangement with Fox is beyond me."
About 45 to 50 members at a meeting of the committee participated in a voice vote. Only "a few" were against sending a resolution declaring reasons why it was a bad idea for the Nevada State Party to co-host the event with the network, Coyle said.
"Fox News is not a neutral source of news - it's a right-wing mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh that smears Democrats and spreads blatantly false information," the resolution states. "Everyone supports reaching out to new people, but one day of Fox coverage is not worth legitimizing Fox's misinformation the other 364 days a year."
Steve Platt, local committee chairman, said he voted against the resolution because he was worried the event would end up not happening, even though he was among those who had concerns about Fox's involvement.
The resolution from the capital city's group was sent to the Nevada Democratic Party soon after the Wednesday meeting.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees hosted a forum featuring most of the Democratic presidential candidates on Feb. 21 at the Carson City Community Center, and ABC had broadcast rights. C-SPAN also televised it.
The Nevada Appeal hosted a viewing event that also drew most of the candidates.
Platt emphasized that more Democratic presidential hopefuls will be coming to the region, such as Sen. Joseph Biden, who will be at the Silver Oak Golf Club on March 21.
• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.
If you go
WHAT: The Jefferson-Jackson presidential candidates' series, a fundraiser for the Carson City Democratic Central Committee
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., March 21
WHERE: Silver Oak Golf Club, 1251 Country Club Dr.
COST: $20 per person
INFORMATION: Call 841-3367 or visit