By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Where was Jill Stein?

I don’t understand why WTKK hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan would moderate a gubernatorial debate that featured only three of the four candidates. If it was their call, they were wrong. If it was management’s call, they should have refused to have anything to do with it.

If ‘TKK’s aim was to have a debate between the two major-party candidates, Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick and Republican challenger Charlie Baker, I would have fewer objections — though still some. September is too soon to start excluding anyone.

But there was no logical reason to include independent candidate Tim Cahill, who has no chance of winning, and exclude Green-Rainbow candidate Jill Stein, who also has no chance.

Not only was it unfair to Stein, it was unfair to Baker. Every time Cahill is given oxygen, he hurts Baker with the conservative base Baker needs to secure if he is to defeat Patrick this November. At the same time, nearly all of Stein’s support comes from people who might otherwise be persuaded to vote for Patrick.

She also happens to be as thoughtful and substantive as any of them, but I suppose that’s beside the point.

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


My iPad lust runneth over


From NPR, clarity on the Bush tax cuts


  1. I’m beginning to think the debate model has outlived it’s usefulness. First of all, there are so many of them, we now suffer from debate overload. Candidates have become so skilled in dodging the questions, and then just sticking to their talking points. After they’re over, we score them like boxing matches. Debates may have been great back in the Lincoln-Douglas days, before multi-mass media, and citizen-journalist scrutiny, but are they still useful today?

  2. Dan Farnkoff

    Did you miss Eagan’s column the other day? She tried to justify the exclusion, but I don’t think she even mentioned Cahill. Something about Stein having run before, and being a moonbat.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Dan: Sadly, I did miss it. Here it is. At least we know Eagan isn’t going to blame Stein’s exclusion on WTKK management.

  3. Bill Peregoy

    I’m glad Margery cleared things up. It’s all about the shoes! And here I thought she was the voice of reason at The Herald.

  4. Dan:

    You know I agree with you on the exclusion issue, but do you truly believe there is no conceivable way for Cahill to win this election? Yes, he’s consistently polling third, but if he pulls, say, 7 or 8 points from one, and five points from the other…

    Not probable, but certainly not impossible given the current political climate, the possibility of major skeletons of one sort or another being uncovered prior to election (this being an age where it becomes more impossible to hide things with each passing day), and his seemingly endless advertising budget. Also, he has never lost an election, so, as a gambler, past performance may not equal future reliability, but it’s usually the way to bet 🙂

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Jim Sullivan: Cahill has enjoyed all of his political success to this point as a Democrat. Now he’s an independent, and, like Stein, is a longshot, non-major-party candidate. Cahill’s winning in November is slightly more conceivable than a Stein victory, just as it’s more likely that you’ll get hit by lightning than by a meteor. But I see no merit in trying to argue that one should be there and the other shouldn’t. I say both or neither, and I’d prefer both.

      I wish @Margery and Jim had addressed the fairness issue. By including Cahill but not Stein, Patrick is put at a significant advantage.

  5. Margery Eagan & Jim Braude

    We recommended that Jill not be included and the station’s managers agreed. It’s not because of the consortium criteria– how much money she raised, low polling numbers and staff size – but because she’s simply not a credible candidate. She’s been crushed in runs for governor, secretary of state, and state rep over the past decade…how many more? And winning a seat at the Lexington town meeting and serving on the local recycling committee doesn’t quite cut it. As to why Tim Cahill, then, since Dan sees his chances of success as paralleling Jill’s? He was there because he is a credible candidate. Tim’s run for office 21 times. Since his first loss almost three decades ago, he has won 20 times in a row, including being elected to his current statewide office. One last thing: Jill’s on the ballot solely because she collected more than 10,000 signatures, which is not an indicator of much. Candidates can pay signature collectors to do their work. So if a dozen candidates bought their way onto the ballot, should debates include 15 participants? Jill is a very credible woman, not a credible candidate.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Margery and Jim: Thanks for checking in. Collecting 10,000 signatures is a formidable hurdle unless you use paid signature-gatherers. Did Stein? Are you telling us she’s the Barbara Johnson of 2010?

  6. Steve Stein

    @Dan F – read it again, 3rd and 4th paragraphs from the end.

  7. The problem here is the way media cover politics. Not a viable candidate? Didn’t we say that about Scott Brown and other surprise tea party candidates? If a candidate is on the ballot – they are a viable candidate and deserve to be heard.

    The job of the media isn’t supposed to vetting out who they think can win and then decided ahead of time not to cover those candidates. It’s the media’s role to inform the voters about all the candidates that we can vote for on the ballot.

    The arguments made by Margery and Jim have more holes than Swiss cheese. “Tim’s run for office 21 times?” So does that mean political rookies need not apply? Talk about not getting it.

    And, yes, if the ballot has 15 candidates – then tell us who they are and where they stand on the issues. Let them debate. Sorry, if that’s too much work or an inconvenience, but that’s the way democracy is supposed to work.

  8. Dan Farnkoff

    Oh yeah, thanks Steve. Sorry- Ms. Eagan did in fact mention Cahill: “Which begs the question…”

  9. the tone of Eagan’s editorial (the continued usage of the pejorative term “moonbat”) immediately strips it of any sort of credibility. Whether she can win or not or could be a spoiler for Patrick, Stein gathered the signatures, is on the ballot and is a legitimate candidate. If it’s all about the amount of money she’s raised, that’s not a legitimate reason. Let her debate.

  10. Bill Peregoy

    I personally think there it is a real service to democracy in including candidates who are credible but may have no chance of winning. So often these candidates bring up valid points of view that are being ignored by everyone else in the field. I think Ms. Stein’s views on single payer health care and expanded gambling are issues that should be talked about. If she’s not involved, the other candidates are never going to be forced to even address such issues.

    I agree with Al on the tone of the Margery Eagan piece. Her characterization of Stein as a “moonbat” did little to sway me to her point of view. I’d love to know what views Margery considers to be in the “moonbat” realm. Anyone who watched her in the first debate saw an intelligent woman who may not be as polished as her opponents but who definitely added a bit of breadth to the debate. And quite oddly, I never took the time to notice her shoes.

  11. Steve Stein

    @Al – I just assumed that was the Herald stylebook – they spell Democrat m-o-o-n-b-a-t.

  12. Dan Farnkoff

    Steve- thank you, my apologies to Ms. Eagan. I must’ve stopped reading after ‘which begs the question…’

  13. Ben Rivard-Rapoza

    Jill Stein was also excluded from Tuesday’s WBZ radio debate. Hopefully, she will be invited to the remaining forums.

  14. Rick Peterson

    How about we banish both “moonbat” and “teabagger” from the lexicon?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Rick: Ah, false balance rears its head once again. Folks in the traditional media use “moonbat” relentlessly, but you rarely see “teabagger.” Sure, let’s abolish both. It’s going to be a lot harder for conservatives than liberals.

  15. Alexandra Corwin

    Just exactly what is ‘moonbat’ status? This is considered the thoughtful, in-depth coverage we’re to expect from Ms. Eagan and her associates?

    If you are going to exclude a legal candidate for governor from debates, please do so on ethical, rational, and compelling reasons. Excluding a candidate on a ‘moonbat’ label, and uninformed data (Ms. Stein used NO paid signature collectors; it goes against her position that she is a candidate of the people) is completely arbitrary and is a sad example of local media using unethical ‘standards’ to exclude a viable candidate.

    Keeping money out of politics is necessary and commendable! And is it truly possible that Ms. Eagan is suggesting that only the candidates who win should be included? Three of the four candidates running this election will lose. Should they never run again or be included in any future debates?

    Ms. Stein has qualified for the state ballot in every area required by state election laws, and has attracted a statistically significant number of supporters; the local media is not a branch of government and should not be allowed to veto participation in debates for a major government office. As Ms. Stein’s campaign position correctly states, “journalists should refuse to be parties to any attempt to restrict the flow of information that voters need and deserve,” particularly given the responsibilities and privileges accorded to them through their use of the public airwaves.

    I am strongly against the poor decision of Ms. Eagan and Mr. Braude and their ‘station managers’ and encourage them to think more highly of their listeners’ intelligence – and not to make their political vote for them before the election is even held.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén