Saturday, October 07, 2006

Update on U.S. Senate Candidate Rae Vogeler's Exclusion from the Debate

Rae responds that Wisconsin Public Television's "Separate, but Equal" Policy is a Farce:

I want to thank you all for your emails and phone calls to Wisconsin Public Television protesting my exclusion from the debate yesterday

"You stood up and defended Wisconsin’s traditions of openness and democracy. Because of you, Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) will be much more careful about how it schedules its candidate coverage in the future.

"Wisconsin Public Television yesterday tried to 'spin' the debate in several different ways. They started out by claiming 'we are not producing a formal debate among any of the candidates for U.S. Senate this year'. Later, facing a barrage of protests, they became more aggressive, 'Thank you for writing regarding the inclusion of Rae Vogeler on "Here and Now." I noticed, however, that you left out another candidate, Ben Glatzel.'

"WPT’s response to emails stated 'By providing all four candidates with more time and comparable opportunities to discuss their views and positions, even if that means splitting them between shows on consecutive weeks, we believe we are better serving the viewers, and voters, of Wisconsin.' Their spin on the debate left a number of you a bit puzzled over what was and wasn't happening at WPT.

"We now know that Herb Kohl and Robert Lorge appeared together last night at the same time on 'Here and Now'. They sat around a table, were asked questions by a moderator, each laid out their responses in turn, and then argued with one another over what each other’s positions were. In short, while it may not have been 'formal', (in the sense that both candidates were sitting as opposed to standing), it was a debate.

"Wisconsin Public Television argues that it has a 'separate, but equal' policy. That policy didn't cut it in education, it didn't cut it in race relations, and it doesn't cut it here. Excluding me allowed Kohl to waltz through an easy debate with someone he agrees with on a lot of key issues. He didn’t get confronted on his support for the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, tax cuts for the wealthy and a host of other issues that harm working Wisconsinites.

"In the debate last night, Kohl stated he does not support setting a date for troop withdrawal from Iraq, saying it would be a 'disaster'. Yet most Wisconsinites support troop withdrawal. He defended his support for the No Child Left Behind Act, despite objections from Wisconsin educators that the testing interfered with teaching. Throughout the debate, Lorge and Kohl agreed on most of the issues, with few exceptions. Lorge even suggested that Kohl might as well switch parties and become a Republican. I concur: as much as Kohl agrees with the Bush agenda, it would be an honest move for him to make.

"So thank you all for being there for me. I've included below an editorial on the debate that appeared in this morning's Capital Times newspaper.

"And I'd like to make a personal pitch for donations. Please help me out. Buying television time is now more important than ever."

- Rae Vogeler

Editorial: Bad decision by public TV
by the Editorial Board of the Capital Times newspaper

The decision of Wisconsin Public Television to exclude Rae Vogeler, the Green Party's serious contender in this fall's U.S. Senate race, from what some billed as a Senate debate last night was reprehensible.

We expect the fundamentally flawed "We the People" project, with its corporate sponsorship and arcane rules, to go out of its way to narrow the discourse and undermine the democratic traditions of Wisconsin, as it has with its decision to exclude the Green candidate from the gubernatorial debates. And we were not surprised when last night's similarly flawed Wisconsin Broadcasters Association gubernatorial debate featured only the Democratic and Republican candidates.

But, somehow, it is worse when Wisconsin Public Television, which should set higher standards, mimics the worst patterns in our political process.

Part of the problem has to do with U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., who has avoided serious debates. Because of Kohl's reluctance to face his challengers, Friday night's face-off on the program "Here and Now" between Kohl and Republican challenger Robert Lorge was billed as "the only scheduled joint appearance between the two in this election season."

If that turns out to be the case, then the voters of Wisconsin have been cheated. The only debate, er, "joint appearance" featuring Kohl should also have featured Vogeler. She is running as serious a campaign as Lorge. And with her opposition to the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act and economic policies promoted by the Bush administration - all stances that are close to those of U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold - Vogeler is more in tune with the sentiments of Wisconsin voters than Kohl or Lorge.

By excluding Vogeler from Friday night's program, WPT made it harder for the Green candidate to let voters know there is a contender who shares their views and values. More significantly, the decision to exclude Vogeler denied voters a chance to witness the clash of ideas that all Wisconsinites have a right to expect in a race for so important a position as a U.S. Senate seat.

Published: October 7, 2006


This email was sent by
Rae Vogeler for U.S. Senate
P.O. Box 260223, Madison, WI 53726-0223
To contact us: (608) 204-7336.

Authorized and paid for by:
Wisconsinites for Rae Vogeler, U.S. Senate
Treasurer: Laurie Frank


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