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Re: Debate lawsuit

On Mon, 30 Sep 2002 11:26:45 -0700 (PDT) Dan Billings
<billingsdan@yahoo.com> writes:
> Maybe they didn't report on the lawsuit because it's
> not really news?  Debates get much more coverage than
> they deserve to begin with.  I'm not sure a lawsuit
> about who participates is that big of a story.

Not only is the lawsuit against the Media corporations not being
reported, but the candidates themselves are not being reported on so the
public by and large has no way of knowing that there is an alternative to
D's and R's.   The fact that someone has filed a suit trying to be
included in the free debate of the issues after qualifying for the ballot
is a news story especially in Massachusetts where the media keeps telling
us how much of a "sport" politics is in the state.

> Jesse Ventura says (correctly) that he would not have
> got elected if he wasn't in the debates in 1998.  But
> he was at about 20% in the polls at that time.

I think I've mentioned this before, but polls don't elect anyone and
certainly can be skewed.  So the fact that Jesse admits that he was not
have been elected if the powers that be excluded him re-enforce the need
to include everyone who has met the standards set down by the state.  

> I think some level of support beyond getting on the
> ballot should be the standard -- but the standard
> should be set well ahead of time and not adjusted to
> keep people in or out.  The Presidential Debate
> Commission using a 15% showing in an average of
> national polls.  That seems a little high.  I'd go
> with 10%.  5% is too low -- with only one third party
> candidate, almost anyone would get that level of
> support as a none of the above option.

I don't know how it's done in Maine, but as I mentioned in my prior post
Massachusetts requires a significant number of signatures before
candidates or initiative petitions can get on statewide ballots.   Again,
using polling figures IMO is not the way to determine who has access to
the media and by extension to the public and who does not.

> In any case: I think this is a matter that the
> stations and the debate sponsors ought to be able to
> decided without help from the courts.  I don't think
> the equal time provisions apply -- covering a debate
> is news coverage.

It appears that debate sponsors can not run a fair debate so it is up to
the courts to rule.  I would anticipate such a court ruling saying
something along the lines that the sponsors can choose who they do and do
not want to participate because it is "their" debate.  The fact that they
are the only debates the "major" candidates agree to particiate in and
they happen to be covered by the media is an aside.