Reid J. Epstein
“Federal Election Commission guidelines make it clear that these criteria cannot be changed after they have been published,” a CNN spokeswoman said Friday. “We believe that our approach is a fair and effective way to deal with the highest number of candidates we have ever encountered.”
But CNN isn’t necessarily married to its qualification standards. Former FEC chairman Brad Smith said in an interview Friday that the FEC’s rules for debate criteria says only that they must be “pre-established,” not that they cannot be altered.
“If I were CNN’s counsel and the news division asked me if they could change the rules, I’d feel pretty comfortable in saying you can do that,” said Mr. Smith, who is now a law professor at Capital University in Ohio. “It’s not something where the regulation prohibits it.”