Walter Mencken 11 a.m., Jan. 24
Communication failure leads to cancellation of Bilbray-Peters radio debate
An apparent lack of communication yesterday morning led to the cancellation of an on-air debate between 52nd congressional district opponents Republican Brian Bilbray and Democrat Scott Peters on AM 760 KFMB radio. Judging from e-mails released by the Peters campaign yesterday afternoon, it seems neither the station nor the Bilbray campaign, which organized the debate, bothered to send Peters an invite.
“Rather than face the voters and defend his support for cuts to Medicare, Scott Peters was a no-show for this morning’s debate on KFMB,” opens a release published on Bilbray’s campaign site.
“Should anyone be surprised he’d want to avoid defending himself on live radio?” asks Bilbray spokesman Patrick Howell. “Scott Peters has already shown San Diegans what kind of elected official he will be: incompetent, unprepared, and dangerous.”
The Peters campaign, and KFMB host Mike Slater, see things differently.
“I am so sorry . . . the Bilbray team came to us to schedule a debate. I asked them to pick a date, and I assumed (absolutely my fault) that they were working with your team for the debate,” reads an e-mail from Slater to Peters spokeswoman MaryAnne Pintar released by the Peters campaign.
Slater later released the following statement, provided to the Reader by Peters’ campaign:
“On August 21, the Bilbray campaign approached me to host a debate on the radio between Congressman Bilbray and Scott Peters. I of course agreed to host.
“This morning at 7:00, the day and time of the scheduled debate, I received an E-mail from the Peters campaign saying they were never officially invited to debate on the air. I never reached out to the Peters campaign because I assumed the campaigns were coordinating the debate schedules and appearances together. I take full responsibility for not confirming with both campaigns.
“I hope we can find a time as soon as possible where the Congressman and Councilman can come on the air for an honest discussion of the issues San Diegans care about the most.”
Pintar instead throws the debate-dodging accusation back at the Bilbray camp, saying the Congressman has refused to accept multiple debate invitations, including Voice of San Diego’s Politifest this weekend, at the North County Chamber of Commerce, at KPBS Radio, and at the Green Experts Academy and The Sustainability Alliance of Southern California.