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The Journal News Stages a Phony Hall-Kelly Debate

October 22, 2006

Last Friday, Oct. 20, 2006, The Journal News carried a front-page story written by Susan Elan and printed “above the fold,” as journalists call any prime position on the top half of the front page of a newspaper. Titled “Congressional opponents Sue Kelly and John Hall hold rare debate,” it gave surprisingly little specific information about the circumstances of this mysterious, unpublicized debate.

Readers may have especially curious about this story since Sue Kelly has exhibited extreme reluctance to debate her opponent in public, even going so far as to fail to respond to a League of Women Voters invitation to debate opponent John Hall publicly, an event scheduled to be broadcast on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

Describing the contest in its news story as “a sometimes cantankerous debate and one of their few face-to-face encounters on the campaign trail,” The Journal News asserted that the candidates “laid out their positions on the war in Iraq, immigration, national security, taxes, health care and the future of the Indian Point power plants.”

What was notably curious about the story was that it exhibited few of the five W’s that beginning journalism students and prospective reporters must learn: Where, When, Who, What, Why. In fact, it took a careful reading of this news story to discover that the “debate” was not a public debate at all in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, the exchanges in this so-called debate actually took place during the standard interview candidates undergo before the editorial board of The Journal News at the Gannett editorial offices in White Plains.

Such interviews form the basis of the newspaper’s pre-election endorsement (or reasons for no-endorsement) of a candidate for office. Just as curiously, the news story neglected to identify by name and title the members of the newspaper’s editorial board who were present at the joint interview.

Crotonblog regards portraying this private event as a public debate as another example of the cheap and cynical way traditional news media manipulate events and manufacture news. Yet The Journal News never saw fit to report a bigger news story—namely, Rep. Sue Kelly’s failure to respond to the invitation of the League of Women Voters to debate opponent John Hall in a traditional debate on Tuesday, Oct. 17. Shame on you, Journal News.

On November 3, 2006 10:53 AM, KatonahDem said:

Now let’s keep this all in perspective. As an ardent John Hall supporter and I might add…FORMER Kelly supporter (before she glued her social views to Southern evangelical congressional Republicans), I would make note of several pieces of information pertinent here. YES! SHAME ON KELLY…she absolutely looks ridiculous (although she’s in darn good shape for 70…sprinting away from RNN like that). There was, however, a nationally televised debate sponsored by Cablevision…shown on C-SPAN and hyperlinked on their Election 2006 site, CampaignNetwork, between Hall and Kelly taped at the “Meet the Leaders” studio in Wappingers Falls in Dutchess County. The host was obviously biased against Hall, but John stood his ground and took some really nasty shots very well from “Catty Kelly.” She was rude, obnoxious, and arrogant. It was obviously pre-recorded, but did last a full hour.

As for the comment(s) about the Journal News, yes, I am foremost a left-leaning political animal, but I am also a self-proclaimed media critic.

COME ON! The Journal News?! Let’s not sweat it. It’s a lousy paper that doesn’t even cover the Hudson Valley well (it’s just another casualty of a local Gannett takeover…little USA Today, essentially). What should we expect from them? Seriously. They’re not exactly the Washington Post…or THE NEW YORK TIMES (greatest newspaper in every respect known to man)! And, let us not forget, John Hall has been proudly and prominently endorsed by the Times, the PAPER OF RECORD. GO JOHN HALL! You sing, and let Sue sprint away from the inevitable bad news about her congressional future (or lack thereof) this Tuesday! I really am glad Mrs. Kelly is in such good health for her age. I mean, post-Congress, she can take part in, I don’t know, the ESPECIALLY AVOIDANT SPECIAL OLYMPICS! Pun intended.

On October 22, 2006 2:45 PM, weewill said:

Outrageous! Why would Sue Kelley, a 12 year incumbent in Congress and a candidate for re-election in this most important election in years refuse to discuss issues with her opponent, John Hall? Could it be shame? This has been the most self-serving and corrupt House in the history of our country? Corruption, lies, graft, favoratism, illicit and clandestine agreements … it goes on and on. Sue Kelley has never, not once, spoken out against such behaviour. Could she be frightened that she might be asked how she defends her silence? Does she realize her only defense is no defense? It’s too little and too late, Sue. We need a leader with courage. Confront your demons. John Hall has told us how he will change this downward spiral. You need to speak up and show some leadership. Stop being a rubber stamp to these toxic acts. Your slick television ads just don’t cut it. Your silence on what really matters, Sue Kelley, is deafening.

If ever there was a time to change direction and representatives now is the time. Sue Kelley has been a silent partner to these decadent and self-serving elected officials and should be held responsible for her passive acceptance of the epidemic of corruption so invasive in this once august body!

John Hall, as a freshman Congressman, with his promised focus on long over due “house cleaning” will accomplish more than Sue Kelley has in 12 years.


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