Doing the Right Thing For All The Wrong Reasons?

From the Austin-American Statesman:

The initial invitation to the Oct. 19 debate said participation would be allowed for all gubernatorial candidates who met a 10 percent threshold in a survey done for the newspapers. The participating papers in the survey — released Sunday — are the American-Statesman, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle. The papers, along with KLRU-TV, are the debate sponsors.

Gov. Rick Perry — the fly in the debate ointment — topped the poll with 46 percent. Democratic challenger Bill White was second at 39 percent. Libertarian Kathie Glass was third at 4 percent, and Green Party nominee Deb Shafto was fourth at 1 percent.

The sponsors’ decision does not appear to be altruistic.

Under the initial rules for the debate, those numbers meant invitations only for Perry and White. That’s the lineup the sponsoring newspapers wanted: a one-on-one forum featuring the two candidates with realistic chances of winning. We are aware of the perennial complaints from third-party candidates who believe their poor showings on Election Day stem in part from reduced coverage from news organizations.

Yes, there might be some potential linkage, but in events like debates that offer limited time, we believe it is more of a public service to limit the field to candidates who show some chance of victory. A perfect approach? Clearly not, but it’s a necessary nod to reality.

With that in mind, Glass and Shafto immediately should send thank you notes to Perry. The newspapers decided to change the 10 percent rule as a result of the governor’s continuing and unreasonable refusal to participate in any debate with White unless the challenger meets the incumbent’s demand to release 1990s income tax returns from when White served as Texas Democratic Party chairman and an assistant U.S. energy secretary.

Perry’s recalcitrance forced the newspapers to reduce the 10 percent threshold to 1 percent, a requirement that means invitations for Glass and Shafto. Here’s why it was changed: Under Federal Communications Commission rules, if the debate included only White, it would essentially be an interview, not a debate. And it would have been an interview that would have forced any TV station that aired it to offer equal time to all candidates. That’s an onerous requirement that probably would have scared any station away from airing the White interview.

A recent UT poll placed Glass at 5% and Shafto at 1%; the poll cited in the article is a separate one conducted for purposes of deciding who would participate in the debate.

5 thoughts on “Doing the Right Thing For All The Wrong Reasons?

  1. Robert Milnes

    OK, let’s see. All Libertarian & Green candidates are still on track to lose.
    Nobody is doing anything about it.
    Politics as usual.
    Losers as usual.
    Just checking.

  2. '..... just look at the activists ' [Lake]

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