Sunday, January 31, 2010

White and Shami only

This is wrong, and not good for democracy:

Texas’ two leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates will square off in the televised debate next month but the five other candidates on the ballot won't be joining them.

Former Houston Mayor Bill White and hair-care magnate Farouk Shami will face off in their first debate on Feb. 8 in Fort Worth.

The debate will be hosted by public TV station KERA/Channel 13. As with KERA's Republican gubernatorial debate earlier this month, the Star-Telegram is a co-sponsor.

Along with White and Shami, five other candidates are running for the DemocraticBill White nomination: educator Felix Alvarado, doctor Alma Aguado, private investigator Bill Dear, professor Clement Glenn and home builder Star Locke.

You may recall that Belo pulled this same crap on Debra Medina with the GOP gubernatorial debates. Only a outpouring of protest made the debate sponsors relent and include her.

I simply don't like the idea of a  collection of corporations and trade groups (comprised of a handful of "very important people") deciding who gets to participate in democracy based on shit criteria like this:

3. Polls are a measure of voter interest. If a candidate receives a minimum of a 6% rating in an established, nonpartisan poll or an average of established, nonpartisan polls, the candidate will be presumed to be newsworthy. Voter interest may also be measured by the amount of votes cast for a candidate, and so a candidate would have to receive a minimum of 6% of votes in a previous election for the same office or a comparable office.

And if you agree with me, then contact KERA and their co-sponsor the Startlegram, and perhaps the other sponsors including KTVT and Univision and the Texas Association of Broadcasters and the Texas State Radio Networks and the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and tell them so.

jobsanger observes that KERA ia a public broadcasting station:
I would have expected this kind of slanted-opinion behavior from a privately-owned television station or network (like Fox News), but it is very disappointing when it comes from a station supposedly owned by the people. After all, KERA is supported by federal funds (that is, taxes paid by all of us) and donations from ordinary citizens. It seems traitorous for them to only allow the rich candidates to debate on their station (the candidates who already have the money to buy all the publicity they need).
Public television advertises itself as the station and network that brings the people programming they can't get on other privately-owned networks and stations -- quality programming that may appeal to only a minority of television viewers. Why then, do they change that mission when it comes to politics? Why do they allow in their debate only the rich candidates declared to be frontrunners by the privately-owned media?

It may be true that the other five candidates don't have nearly the funds of the two rich candidates, but does that mean they would have nothing to offer the people of Texas? In fact, their lack of funds makes it even more important for the people's public television to give them the opportunity to show they are (or aren't) a quality candidate, possibly with more to offer the voters than the rich "anointed" or self-funded candidates.

Felix Alvarado, one of the untouchables, points out ...

Apparently, money is the only driving force in the democratic arena…

For the past few months, we have read over and over again the need for recruiting well-qualified democratic candidates to run for statewide office.  Few can deny that the objective was to recruit a Latino to run against Perry, but anyone would do, anyone that is …that the democratic establishment felt was well – qualified.

And Dr. Alma Aguado noted in the comments there that minorities and the poor lack the resources and the literacy -- technological as well as information sifting (ie, "the ability to interpret the reliability and accuracy of information") -- in order to fully participate online. Which is where the action, as we all know, is.

This circumstance is particularly odious for an organization like the FOIFT to go along with. And since there are two Hispanic candidates in the race being frozen out of the debate, it would be interesting to know how the folks at Univision feel about their participation.

Obviously this is about the ease of moderating a two-person debate than a seven-person one, and the 'dangerous precedent' set by having anyone who pays the filing fee getting to be on teevee with the VIPs. What, pray tell, would happen if twenty people filed for governor four years from now? However would they be able to control that?

Limiting participation limits choices and restricts the democratic process. It allows for greater control by already-too-powerful sources. We can stop this but it requires taking action to do so.

The Medina supporters got it done. Can we?

No comments: