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01/19/2010

Here Comes The Judge!

  Jacob Meister is not your "garden variety" candidate upset that he's being left out of an important campaign debate.  That's why the democratic U.S. Senate hopeful will ask a federal judge to intervene and force WTTW-TV to include Meister in its televised forum Wednesday night.

  Executive producer Jay Smith told me last Friday that because Meister was not the preferred candidate of at least five per cent of people surveyed in a Chicago Tribune-sponsored poll during the first week of December, the Chicago attorney was not invited to participate alongside Alexi Giannoulias, Cheryle Jackson and David Hoffman.

  WTTW, the public television station that promotes itself as the region's "window to the world", is not only relying on a nearly two-month old survey, it also discounts the fact that Meister's campaign has spent most of a million dollars, has opened six campaign offices around the state with 33 paid staff members, has aired over two thousand broadcast and cable television ads, and has distributed thousands of printed pieces.  And during the final weeks of the campaign, you'll see Meister's spectacled mug and name on rolling CTA bus billboards.

  When I talked to Smith last week, he wouldn't budge on the "five per cent" rule, no matter how many weeks ago the race was measured. 

  "Its not about how much money (Meister) spends, its about bringing our viewers candidates who have a reasonable chance of winning", said Smith during a telephone interview.

   When did some pollster with a seven week old telephone survey of 800 "likely" voters and a TV producer on Chicago's Northwest side become the arbiters of who has a "reasonable" chance of winning an election?

  Something else to consider:  

  Usually at this stage of a primary campaign, there would have been several pre-election polls commissioned by several different news organizations around the state during the weeks leading up to an election.   But this year, most media outlets are seriously cash-strapped (or bankrupt) and are simply not buying polling information the way they used to buy it.  That's why there aren't more recent numbers for Mr. Smith and WTTW to consider.

  But polls will not be the issue for Meister's lawyers.  They will argue that WTTW is violating election rules set down by the Federal Communications Commission to guarantee fairness in campaign coverage.

  It'll be interesting to hear what a federal judge will say about this.

   

Comments

The FCC determined in 2008(for Dennis Kucinich) that debates are NOT included in the Equal Time requirements that Meister is quoting. I'm sure that as a lawyer he must realize this and is only making noise to get attention. That being said....he probably should be included in the debate

Thanks for this post! I wrote Mr. Smith a note last week about this. I don't get it. Meister is on the ballot and it's public TV for goodness sake. Who do they think they are?!

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