Channel 2 WGRZ-TV un-vites me from debate because I write satire
I got another letter today from local NBC affiliate WGRZ–this time it was unopened, in the mailbox. It reads:
As you are aware, WGRZ-TV and the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle invited the candidates for the 26th congressional district to a debate at the WGRZ-TV studios on May 12th. In fact, after a certified letter to your business, the Buffalo Beast, was returned to our station, we sent Scott Levin to your home to personally make sure you were given every opportunity to respond and participate.
Yes, I recall that letter. Dated April 15th, received April 28th, requiring RSVP by April 30th, which fell on a Saturday. So I was given every opportunity to respond in one day. I did that. The letter continues:
Since the letters were mailed to all four candidates, two major situations have developed. First, a Siena poll shows you garnering only 1% of the vote, while the other three candidates have substantially higher and much closer poll numbers. The Siena poll would indicate you are not considered a serious candidate by the residents of the district.
Fair enough, I’m shit in the polls. No surprise there. Radical atheist, leftist, socialist not polling well in blood-red NY-26. However, this doesn’t speak to my seriousness as a candidate. It only speaks to my relatively unpopular positions. I advocate Medicare for all; I advocate taxing the rich; I advocate ending these pointless wars in which we’re engaged. These are unpopular ideas in my district. That, however, does not mean they are not serious positions. What else then?
That indication was supported this past weekend with your latest post on your latest Buffalo Beast blog, dated April 29th. In that blog, you wrote about Scott delivering you the invitation, and refer to Scott as a “tall, orange robot.” You wrote that you were “stoned,” and “a little drunk.” You referred to Scott Levin’s face as “covered with wierd [sic] orange puddy?” You made crude references to the condition of your home. You also greatly distorted the conversation you had with Scott to the point of turning it into a vulgar satire.
Whoa! Hold on now! A satire writer writing satire?! How fucking dare I?
You make it clear in the way you present yourself that you are not a serious candidate in this race. WGRZ-TV, the other candidates, and the residents of the 26th congressional district ARE taking this race seriously. As such, we no longer offer you an invitation to the May 12th debate.
Shit. I barely know how to respond to this. It was pretty clear from the timing of the original, opened, letter that I was somewhat less than welcome. It’s also pretty clear that if calling their orange news robot orange was enough to get me booted, they would have used any excuse to exclude me.
And that 1%? Well, WGRZ-TV, it’s not your fucking job to interpret poll numbers. It’s not your fucking job to censor one of the candidates. It’s not your fucking job to tell people who is and who is not a “serious” candidate. It’s just not your fucking job. In case you forgot, your fucking job is to present all the information available to your viewers, on any given subject, and let them decide. That is your fucking job. And, you know what? Maybe I’d have a little more than 1% if the local media did its fucking job to begin with.
Like me or not, what WGRZ-TV has done here is an insult to our democracy. Local news stations, no matter how awful, have no business excluding someone who is officially on the ballot from taking part in a debate. Since, for the most part, the local media has not done its fucking job, this debate was one of the few opportunities for me to speak directly to the residents of NY-26. But WGRZ-TV doesn’t think much of folks around here, apparently. Not enough to let them decide for themselves, anyway.
At any rate, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Scott Levin. Scott, you are very orange. This is not in dispute. But calling you a robot was wrong. You’re at least partially human. Cyborgs have it rough in our society, and I didn’t mean to pigeonhole you in with fleshless robots. Robots are never that orange. I should have known.
I have a local CBS affiliate interview to do. Later.