A few weeks back we told you about John Jay Myers, the Free Man-owning, big government-distrusting Libertarian candidate for Senate, who believes he's being unfairly excluded from a Belo debate that will feature his two major-party competitors. After a small protest in front of WFAA's Young Street headquarters failed to convince the TV station to allow Myers to enter the debate, he announced today that he's filed a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.
The complaint letter (news of which was broken by Robert Wilonsky) runs some four pages, and calls WFAA's standards for debate inclusion "subjective, inconsistent, and biased."
Previously, Myers also accused WFAA of downplaying his protest of the station in their own news coverage. He also pointed out that they appear to have added a sixth condition to the supposedly ironclad five bullet-point list they used in a letter to his campaign manager.
The five original criteria required that in order to take part in the debate, a candidate has to have received "significant levels of public support"; "substantial campaign contributions from varied sources"; have gotten a "significant level of votes" in prior comparable elections; will be reported by news agencies in election night returns; and has to have received "significant news coverage" from a "wide range of media outlets."
Yet in WFAA's own brief staff report on the protest, there was suddenly a sixth condition added to the list: "Has previously held significant public office(s)." In an email to WFAA news director Carolyn Mungo and anchor Brad Watson, which he CC'ed to the Observer, Myers cried foul.
"Your latest article about our protest wasn't posted on your Facebook page. Could have been oversight. Doubtful," he wrote. "Also the original link didn't link to your home page... You added a bullet point to your 'standard' bullet points that you use 'every time.' Which is funny cause your 5 solid criteria are now 6. Again, you failed to mention, or actually lied to say that Ted Cruz meets all of your bullet points. You also said that I don't meet any of your bullet points. I would argue that is not true."
Myers concluded by asking Mungo if the station was, in his words, "really going to dump journalistic integrity down the toilet to stop a small third party candidate? This is your career, you would think you would take it seriously. Do you realize Rand Paul wouldn't have met most of your criteria?"
The letter to the FCC mentions the addition of that new condition, concluding that the station "has provided inapplicable, unmeasurable, arbitrary, and inconsistently applied debate criteria. WFAA has made no attempt to give objective metrics so campaigns, regulators, and the general public can be aware of how candidates were selected for their debate." WFAA, Myers adds, "has sided with the two parties it favors and offered empty criteria only to create the illusion of legitimacy."
"We are just hoping that the next time Brad Watson tries to exclude legitimate candidates he thinks twice," Myers told me in an email. "The next targets of our press release will be their advertisers.
"Think about this: prior to the debate where Ron Paul debated Rudy Giuliani, how much of a base did he have? After that debate a virtual revolution was started. By not including us in the debates Watson is cutting off our chances of actually changing politics as usual in this country."
It's unlikely, however, that politics as usual will change in time for the first debate, which is scheduled for tomorrow. A follow-up is planned for the 19th. On Facebook, the Myers campaign is still fundraising, hoping to buy some T.V. ad time. We wonder if it'll be on channel 8.