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Trail of Tears




PBS violates my First Amendment Rights, mocks our Constitution

What rot. NBC wouldn’t let me into their “debate,” but they’re a private sector company and, therefor, can legally exclude any candidate they want on the flimsiest of pretexts–like one of the candidates hurt their feelings. But now the PBS station out of Rochester WXXI won’t let me into their debate. In fact, I “did not meet WXXI’s debate inclusion guidelines and was not invited to participate.”


I’ve been trying to find out all day what these guidelines are, but the people at WXXI won’t talk to me. They actually hung up on me several times before letting me leave a message. Maybe I’m not tall enough. Or rich enough. But a good guess is that the “guidelines” are either an arbitrary minimum number in the polls, or just complete bullshit. Either way, it’s complete bullshit. Not only is it a huge pile of steaming bullshit, it’s a violation of the Constitution of these here United States. Call the motherfucking TEA Party. Oh, right, republicans only pretend to give a shit about the Constitution.

PBS is partially funded by the government, and the government cannot legally silence a candidate who is on the ballot. It’s state censorship.

In ’98 the Supreme Court ruled “that a state-owned television station may exclude political candidates from a televised debate as long as the exclusion is reasonable and not based upon the speaker’s viewpoint.” Firstly, who is to decide what is “reasonable”? If I were in charge of PBS, I may want to exclude Jane Corwin because she’s a terrible liar who represents the very worst of humanity. That is reasonable to me. I may be tempted to exclude Jack Davis because he might just start riffing on why he hates the blacks. That seems like a reasonable fear. I may exclude Kathy Hochul because her deeply forced cringe would scare any children watching. Will no one think of the children?

Secondly, what would be a reasonable exclusion if it’s “not based upon the speaker’s viewpoint”? The speaker’s viewpoint seems like the only reasonable thing you could use to exclude someone from a debate. Age, race, sex, income level, etc. certainly isn’t a “reasonable” basis to exclude a candidate from taking part in a debate. So what else is left? The poll numbers? Really? That’s your reasonable exclusionary policy, WXXI? It would really help if they’d just answer the goddamn phone.

Well, what is a candidate’s poll number based on? Voter perception based on age, race, sex, physical attractiveness, height, wealth/advertising power and political viewpoints. None of these things could be used to legally exclude that candidate from participating in a debate, so how could one’s poll number be used to justify exclusion?

UPDATE: Someone from WXXI called me a few hours ago to explain their guidelines. His name was Chip, Chaz, or Cuntface. I don’t remember. It turns out that their “reasonable” exclusion policy is based on poll numbers, among other things. Hilariously, he told me one of the guidelines was that I haven’t gotten enough media attention…to get media attention. OK! CBS, HuffPo, Salon, The Young Turks, New York Magazine–just to name a few–do not count as media outlets. You get that, people who work at these places? You are not in the media. You are janitors or something.

I asked Chip or Chaz or Cuntface if he’s had a change of heart. He said no. I asked if he felt like a big ‘ol dickhead. He thought about it for a second then said no and hung up.

Anyway, I’m going to eat a bagel before this place in Rochester kicks me out for stealing their Wi-Fi.


  • Ozinator

    Good on ya, Ian

    You may want to interview or reach out to this lady…She’s very accessible and could share some election law loophole stories with you.


  • http://n/a C. M. Barons

    You have just witnessed (firsthand) why Rochester is (hardly affectionately) known as Smug Town. WXXI is likely the smallest city PBS affiliate with the largest endowment, sits in the shadow of Kodak’s former office and ‘could be’ a bastion of broadcast excellence – if – it could divest its suburban karma and undeserved ego.

    The dolts at WXXI sent my invitation to videotape a candidate profile to the wrong address. When I discovered THEIR error, they deferred that it was too late to accept.

  • Mike in Ontario, NY

    FWIW, the day before the election I was listening to NPR (the Oswego affiliate, since I hate the douches on the local WXXI am/fm), and they did a short piece on the election. They mentioned Corwin, Davis, and Hochul, but did not mention Murphy once. SO when I got home I left a message with the NPR ombudsman about the meaning of the word “democracy” and educating the populace. So far, no return call. Fuckheads.

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