As Mike Hassinger covered in the Peach Pundit Daily (sign up here), Governor Nathan Deal won’t be attending the Atlanta Press Club’s primary debate. That’s not terribly unusual for an incumbent who has poll numbers that tell him he’s not in danger of losing in a primary, so no reason to go play to rhetoric of Republicans that want him to move to the right when he needs to be focused on keeping the middle away from Jason Carter in November.
What is unusual, as noted by staunch right wing Nathan Deal apologist Thomas Wheatley of Creative Loafing, is that the Atlanta Press Club sent out a press release noting the Governor had declined their invitation. None of us can ever remember the Press Club announcing someone was snubbing them. Ever.
So, me being me, I sent an email asking why they were singling out Governor Deal. I received the following response:
“The intention of the media alert was to advise anyone planning on attending the debate live at GPB that Governor Deal will not be there. Just wanted to send the information your way for reference.”
OK, so the Atlanta Press Club wasn’t singling out the Governor. They just needed us media folks to know the Governor wasn’t going to be there so we could plan to skip it, right? I sent another email and got this:
“This debate is of particular interest to many people and the Atlanta Press Club expects a large turnout for the taping of the debate at Georgia Public Broadcasting. In case a member of the media was hoping to see Governor Deal in person, we are distributing this information to manage that expectation. If you’d like to chat with Lauri Strauss of the Atlanta Press Club for more information, please let me know and I’m happy to connect you.”
OK, my expectations are now “managed”. My expectations remain that these debates will spend too much of their time re-instructing the audience what their rules are, and then we’ll continue to insult everyone’s intelligence by forcing candidates and press members to ask a question to “empty podium”. I did however send back word that if Ms. Strauss would like help further explain, we’ll be glad to post here response.
As for the press release itself, I’d ask them to consider this. The press has a horrible reputation with Republicans who believe they are never treated fairly. Right or wrong, we all know this perception exists. And when a Republican Governor is singled out in what appears to be a precedent making press release for skipping your debate, this adds to this perception. But if you want us to believe that you’re sending out a press release to let us know that since the Governor isn’t going to be there we should “manage our expectations”, you seem to be saying that if we have a better offer that day we should take it. It’s equally hard to believe you want us to go cover something else. And this is why we have trust issues.