Long shot presidential candidate Mark Everson of Gautier is challenging the way Fox News is winnowing the presidential debate field.
Fox News is using an average of five national polls to pick the 10 candidates who will appear on Thursday's prime time debate. But, Fox News decided not to extend that criteria to the earlier debate for the “rest” of the field. Instead it will limit that debate to the candidates who have consistently appeared in the major national polls.
Everson is challenging that change in a complaint to the Federal Elections Commission.
Everson is arguing that election law requires "pre-established and objective standards" for inclusion, and that Fox News has not met that requirement , according to USA Today.
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Everson posted excerpts of his letter to Fox News on his Facebook page
"By discarding the 1 percent threshold for participation in the Fox debate you have recognized that polls are not reliable indicators of future electoral success at this early stage of the Republican race,” he wrote “It is inconsistent and arbitrary to then insist that to be included a candidate must be 'consistently being offered to respondents in major national polls, as recognized by Fox News.' I urge you to reconsider this standard."
Everson worked in the administrations of presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, whom he served as IRS commissioner. He also was chief of the Red Cross until he was fired after his affair with Paige Roberts, another Red Cross employee, came to light.
His Facebook wall is covered with critiques of the Fox News debate scheme including a Media Matters report that not even the Fox team agrees on the format.
“A Fox personality told the reporter that there is "total confusion" about the debate process, and accused (Fox News head Roger) Ailes and other executives of "making it up as they go along.,' “ Media Matters reported. “Another personality described it as "crazy stuff" where "you have a TV executive deciding who is in -- and out -- of a debate." “
The Washington Post also pointed on problems with using polling margins that fall within the margins of error of the polls to pick the debaters. But picking them based on inclusion in poll question doesn't make sense either. Especially if you're Mark Everson
“He's got an extensive record in government, including running the IRS, but it seems that counting as a "real candidate" in general requires either name recognition or past elected office,” Post reporter Philip Bump wrote. “The Eversons of the world didn't hit 1 percent because they were never included in polling.
“Pollsters have to draw a line somewhere, too, since asking someone to stay on the phone while you rattle off 129 names is a bit rude. Would Everson poll worse than the less than 1 percent that former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore pulled in the new Quinnipiac poll? He could certainly tie 'under 1 percent.' So could you.”