Democrats Cancel Debate Due to Possible Strike


Citing a potential strike by CBS News employees, the Democratic National Committee has cancelled the pesidential-candidate debate that was set for Dec. 10 on CBS, officials said Wednesday.

The DNC put the kibosh on the scheduled debate in Los Angeles after Sen. John Edwards, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama all said they would not cross a picket line if the CBS workers, who have authorized a strike, did walk out.

“Due to the uncertainty created by the ongoing labor dispute between CBS and the Writers Guild of America, the DNC has canceled the December 10th debate in Los Angeles,” DNC communications director Karen Finney said in a prepared statement. “There are no plans to reschedule."

The cancellation sparked a flurry of dueling comments from CBS and the Writers Guild of America, which represents the CBS News employees.

"CBS News regrets not being able to offer the Democratic presidential debate scheduled for Dec. 10 in Los Angeles," the network said. "The possibility of picket lines set up by the Writers Guild of America and the unwillingness of many candidates to cross them made it necessary to allow the candidates to make other plans."

In response, the WGA issued its own statement.

“The Writers Guild of America, East and the Writers Guild of America, West regret that the Democratic National Committee has had to cancel the December 10th Presidential Debate hosted by CBS,” the unions said.

 “This was triggered by CBS' fear that the Democratic candidates would not cross a picket line by WGA-CBS News writers or WGA Film and TV writers to participate in the debate – a concern that could have been avoided entirely if CBS would simply sit down and negotiate a fair contract for its news and entertainment employees,” the unions said. “Instead, CBS chose to make a decision that stifles the democratic process.”

Meanwhile, talks were set to continue for a fourth day, today, as the WGA tries to reach a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. TV and film writers represented by the WGA have been on strike against the studios since Nov. 5, and this week originally only three days of talks between both parties were set, for Monday through Wednesday. But both sides agreed to sit down for another day of talks Thursday.

And according to published reports, one of the AMPTP’s key spokesmen, former Warner Bros. official Barbara Brogliatti, has decided to step down from her role as day-to-day spokesman. She will instead just act as an advisor to the studios.

According to several polls, the public is siding with the TV writers in their contract dispute, and the writers themselves have been waging an aggressive war against the studios on the Internet, via viral videos and web sites.