Depending on which newspaper you are reading, you either think the gubernatorial candidates may debate in Cleveland, or they will not debate or they definitely will debate. Such, apparently, is the world when newspapers are in the news.
As background, the Plain Dealer, Columbus Dispatch and Dayton Daily News have acted as a consortium to sponsor debates starting with the gubernatorial debate in 2002 (apparently some guy ran against Taft then. Who knew?)
The Blackwell and Strickland camps agreed to debates in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Youngstown. But the campaigns jointly demanded four changes in the set up. Three were logistical; the fourth was adding Don King’s Ohio black newspaper the Call & Post as a sponsor. The newspapers agreed to 1-3 and nixed the fourth.
Here’s where it gets interesting. The Dayton Daily News has its debatemeter set at “maybe.” According to DDN, the candidates issued a joint statement agreeing that the Cleveland debate "be sponsored by a media consortium, including Cleveland's The Plain Dealer, Columbus Dispatch, Dayton Daily News and the Call & Post."
The newspaper consortium had not agreed to that and PD editor Brent Larkin was not amused. DDN quotes him charging that both campaigns "are engaging in flagrant distortion of the truth and they should be ashamed of themselves.” So DDN says that the candidates have agreed to the debates, but the statement casts doubt on whether it will happen.
Next up, the Plain Dealer which declared the Cleveland debate off. The PD’s story is a study in journalistic petulance. It focuses solely on the Cleveland debate, making no mention of the four others. While it leaves out Larkin’s money quote from the DDN, it lashes both candidates for, well, whatever it is they’ve done.
Finally, the Dispatch says that the four debates are still on, “Although [the] campaigns declined to reveal when or to name the sponsoring organizations.” Again, the Dispatch gives Larkin room to rail against the campaigns:
- "At the eleventh hour, the Blackwell and Strickland campaigns came along and tried to rewrite the rules and force a partnership that was incompatible with what we have been doing since 2002," Larkin said.
"We are not going to be a party to the political gamesmanship that is going on between those two campaigns."
Why is Ted on board with all this? It looks to me like he’s being bullied by Blackwell on race. While the establishment newspapers may have a point about the Call & Post lacking expertise on state government, if Ted had sided with the papers against a Black media outlet, Blackwell would have flayed him for it. If I’m right, Ted called the bluff and J. Ken, pot-committed at that point, has been forced to participate in this buddy routine.