Johnson Campaign Files Complaint Against CBS

The presidential campaign of Gary Johnson, the former Libertarian New Mexico Governor who is pro-choice, pro-guns and against Internet regulation, has filed a complaint against CBS with the Federal Election Commission and the FCC.

The complaint alleges that CBS' exclusion of Johnson from its Nov. 12 televised debate constituted "an illegal corporate in-kind contribution" to the candidates it did include in the debate.

The complaint argues the value of that contribution "vastly exceeds the contribution limit that applies to any category of lawful donor."

The FCC-directed complaint points out that Johnson was a participant in other debates covered by "cable" and that CBS had "arbitrarily and capriciously" excluded him. "The public owns the airways over which CBS broadcasts, and the public deserves to be free from bias -- favoring some candidates over others -- as well as illegal support of certain presidential candidates on national network television."

A check of the of debate summaries at only shows him participating in one of the televised debates -- there have been an even dozen so far -- the first one, on May 11 on Fox News.

One of Johnson's seven principles of good government is "Don't hesitate to deliver bad news."  In that spirit, while Johnson's FCC complaint was filed against the CBS national network, the FCC has no regulatory authority over the network, only the stations, CBS owned and otherwise, that carry it.

CBS had no comment on the complaint, but a source speaking on background said that the reason Johnson was not included was that the criteria for inclusion in the debate was that the candidate had to be polling at least 1%.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.