IF RICK PERRY DEBATES IN A FOREST, AND IF NO ONE IS THERE TO HEAR HIM, DOES HE MAKE A POINT?

You want to hear the gubernatorial debate? Well, KERA wanted to bring it to you–as they’ve done with their Texas Debates series for about 20 years. But Rick Perry and Belo had other ideas:

Our good brothers and sisters with People Newspapers tipped us to this. A little rooting around confirmed it.

Along with its broadcast partners, including Spanish-language outlets and Belo stations, KERA has in the past delivered the debates to something like 90 percent of the state. Last time around, the gubernatorial debate was carried by about 70 stations.

This year, though, KERA ran into trouble as they tried to put the thing together. The Libertarian candidate, James Werner, was told he would not be able to participate, as there were already four serious contenders involved. Then Perry started giving the station trouble. He doesn’t need the debate; it could only hurt him. So he had difficulty committing to a date. Still and all, though, it looked like it was going to go off October 5, and KERA brass told the Associated Press as much.

Then Perry said, “Whoa! Hang on, you public-broadcasting mofos! I’ve agreed to do an exclusive deal with Belo.” Perry will appear at one, and only one, debate. That debate will host all five candidates (including the Libertarian), meaning that each candidate will only really have about 10 minutes of air-time during the hour-long debate. No more KERA partnership, no guaranteed 90-percent state coverage.

And here’s the kicker. Belo and the governor decided on the perfect date: October 6, the Friday night before the Texas/OU game. In other words, no one in Dallas or Austin (or Oklahoma, for what that’s worth) will be watching.

So Belo gets the action all to itself, and the governor gets a crowded, short
debate nobody is going to watch.

[shaking head slowly, admiring evil genius of state Republicans, knowing that I myself will likely be dead drunk by the time the debate starts]

Update: KERA says it did not tell the Libertarians their candidate couldn’t debate. They are still in the process of determining whether his campaign meets the debate partners’ established debate criteria (www.kera.org/debatecriteria.doc). And I’m double-checking to see if Belo has promised the Libertarian a spot.

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