The Nevada Democratic Party has canceled an August debate that was to be co-hosted by Fox News Channel, citing comments by the network's president about Barack Obama rather than an online protest launched by liberal activists and bloggers who believe the channel is biased.
"Comments made last night by Fox News President Roger Ailes in reference to one of our presidential candidates went too far. We cannot, as good Democrats, put our party in a position to defend such comments," state Democratic Party Chairman Tom Collins and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid wrote in a letter sent Friday to Fox News.
Ailes reportedly made a comment playing on the similarity of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's name to Osama Bin Laden.
"And it is true that Barack Obama is on the move. I don't know if it's true that President Bush called Musharraf and said, 'Why can't we catch this guy?" Ailes said at a Radio & Television News Directors Association Foundation event in Washington on Thursday, according to a transcipt provided by Fox.
A call to Obama's campaign spokeswoman was not returned Friday night, the AP says.
Ailes' comment fueled an existing firestorm over Nevada Democrats' partnership with the network. Reid and party leaders had announced the deal for the Aug. 14 debate in Reno as a way to reach new voters.
MoveOn.org Civic Action, a network of liberal activists, called on the state Democratic Party to drop partnership with Fox, which the group calls "a mouthpiece for the Republican party," two weeks ago.
Fox News vice president David Rhodes said the party's decision Friday showed the online group owns the Democratic Party in Nevada.