Guest Columnist

Campaigns, media shut Libertarians out of debates

Questions from the audience are answered during a forum for Iowa gubentorial candidates for the Democratic and Libertarian party primaries hosted by the League of Women Voters of Iowa at Ballantyne Auditorium on the campus of Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Questions from the audience are answered during a forum for Iowa gubentorial candidates for the Democratic and Libertarian party primaries hosted by the League of Women Voters of Iowa at Ballantyne Auditorium on the campus of Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Recently, my opponent, Fred Hubbell, challenged me to three gubernatorial debates. We accepted. The problem is some media outlets decided they didn’t want us in the debates which we believe was due to pressure from Gov. Kim Reynolds’ campaign. At the end of the day, three debates were scheduled, and I am in none.

KTIV in Sioux City and KWWL in Waterloo had originally invited me to their Sioux City debates, rescinded the invitation, later posted that I was invited again, and then once again took away the invitation. KCCI and the Des Moines Register told me their lawyers had established criteria because I would take up too much airtime, which is odd considering some stations had no problem putting 6 candidates on stage during the Gubernatorial primaries during a televised debate.

KCRG in Cedar Rapids told me if I wanted any airtime that I needed to buy advertisements from them. KWQC in the Quad Cities refused to even contact me back when I asked for their criteria when Hubbell and Reynolds were negotiating the debate schedule.

For the past 12 years, I have worked hard to make sure the Libertarian Party achieved major party status in Iowa, so we could have things that major parties have such as access to the debates. It is much more difficult for us to keep that major party status in this election when the media is giving a giant in-kind contribution to my opponents.

For the most part, Iowa media has been fair to this campaign. The Des Moines Register had us meet with the editorial board and even endorsed me in the primary, Iowa Public Television aired the first Libertarian primary debate in the state of Iowa, and we have been mentioned in hundreds of news articles. That said, when they face a little pressure from elected politicians to keep me out, they caved faster than you can imagine.

Reynolds should be ashamed of herself for her part in keeping us out of the debates. Hubbell should be ashamed of himself for accepting debates that I am not a part of. The media hosting these debates should be ashamed of themselves for their lack of journalistic integrity and a complete lack of ethics by leaving us out of the negotiation process. Shame on all three for not being Iowa nice.

The media may have the right to invite whoever they want to their debates. They can sell out to the elected politicians like they have done here, but I don’t have to be silent about it either. You have a right to run your business as you see fit. Advertisers have a right to advertise somewhere else. Viewers and readers have a right to get their news from competitors. My supporters and I have a right to show up and protest any debates that I am kept out of.

• Jake Porter is the 2018 Libertarian nominee for Iowa Governor.

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