Gay GOP presidential candidate Fred Karger says Fox News won't let him into a Republican presidential debate even though he's met all of the network's conditions for qualifying.
Karger told The Advocate today that he is prepared to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission if he's not allowed to debate in Ames, Iowa later this week. He's also launched a petition in conjunction with his Let Fred In website after learning through news reports (because he says Fox News isn't take his calls) that the network was rejecting his registration.
The Fox News Channel's rules had required candidates to average at least 1% in five "recent" national polls before registration day. And so Karger points to five polls that have him doing just that.
But Fox's vice president for news, Michael Clemente, told The Advocate in a statement that either the polls are too old, with the latest coming from April, or that the Internet-based polling methodology used by Zogby and Harris Interactive is insufficient.
"Such polls do not qualify for the purposes of meeting the debate criteria," he said.
Karger responded, "These aren't the nonscientific polls that your friends use, these are real polling agencies here," objecting to entire polling companies being tossed out.
Both pollsters are independent and are not affiliated with any party. A search at FoxNews.com shows that the network has regularly reported on Zogby's polls over the years. The same is true for Harris Interactive. The Fox News executive didn't explain what makes the polls Karger cites any less credible than the ones his network has reported on in the past.
The April poll was actually conducted by Fox News itself. But Clemente points out that the network has since run two new polls and that Karger didn't reach the 1% threshold.
That explanation is "total B.S.," if you ask Karger. "They said recent polls but they didn't say how recent," Karger says about the rules, which were outlined in late July. "By federal law, they have to have what's called 'preexisting criteria,' and that means they can't just be random like you're in and you're not."
Karger claims the network accepted polls as old as five months when admitting candidates to its poorly attended debate in South Carolina.
Gay rights has been a top issue in the Iowa headlines these days, with candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum signing an antigay pledge from the Family Leader.
"I am sure it will become an issue, and I want to be there to defend equality," he said. "No one else will, certainly."