The Greens got 10 percent of the vote four years ago, and all of a sudden, they think they’re a real political party.
LeAlan Jones, the Green Party’s nominee for U.S. Senate, is complaining to NBC’s “Meet the Press”, implying (if not directly stating) that they're excluding him because he's black and represents a third party. Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias are scheduled to appear on the show Oct. 10.
I am no minor candidate. As the only African-American running this historically African-American U.S. Senate seat, I have been polling as high as 14% with 30% in Illinois’ sizable African-American community. These are unprecedented levels for a Green Party candidate in a federal campaign.
And yet, your network is deliberately excluding me from this debate while it has been eager to cover the Tea Party and their “all-American” candidates.
So I ask you straight: does NBC believe it can shut out young, minority, low-income voices from its airwaves?
If this is a matter of good television, I can assure you my presence in this debate would be great television. As you may know, I am still, to this day, the youngest-ever winner of the prestigious Peabody Award for my radio documentaries on NPR.
Most importantly, NBC must fulfill its public obligation to include voices beyond the corporate mainstream. The public own the airwaves and we can take them back. I encourage you to include me in the October 10th debate in the name of real democracy and freedom.
Notwithstanding whether excellence in radio is proof of entertainment on television, both candidates should be afraid of allowing a third party into a debate, since nobody actually wants to vote for Kirk or Giannoulias.
Illinois has the hottest Senate race in the nation only because the two major-party candidates are competing in a race to the bottom of public esteem. We’ve been living off the Lincoln-Douglas debates for 152 years, but this national showcase for the would-be successors to Obama may be enough to destroy Illinois’ reputation for high-toned Senate contests.
Giannoulias, of course, has the most to fear from lifting the “black out” on Jones, since Jones could cost him African-American votes. As Capitol Fax pointed out:
Jones is black, and that means the Democrat Giannoulias probably wouldn’t want to appear with him on a national TV program. Giannoulias’ spokesperson said today that Meet the Press “sets the rules.”
Since "Meet the Press" apparently won’t have Jones, here’s an offer from Ward Room: We'll ask Jones the same questions David Gregory asks Kirk and Giannoulias, and print his responses in this space. Check back here on Oct. 11.