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Excuse Me, but Is This Debate Seat Taken?

September 15, 2003|Mary Carey

This week, the California Broadcasters Assn. suddenly and inexplicably changed its rules regarding the number of candidates participating in the Sept. 24 statewide debate. By reducing the number of participants from six to five, the CBA is practicing the kind of censorship that broadcasters usually rail against. It is also denying the voters of California the opportunity to hear alternative solutions to the state's monumental problems.

Here's how it unfolded:

On Sept. 8, the CBA sent out a press release announcing "the leading six candidates" it had invited to participate in the debate. The six were Cruz Bustamante, Tom McClintock, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Peter Ueberroth, Arianna Huffington and Peter Camejo.

I have it in writing in two letters from CBA President Stan Statham that the debate was always intended to include six candidates. Why six? Perhaps because these are the candidates who received 5% or higher in public opinion polls, as spelled out in the CBA letters? No, because in the latest polls Huffington received only 3% and Camejo only 2%.

So why six candidates? I don't know. Let's assume it's an issue of logistics. Let's say six is the maximum number that fits on the stage and into the time format. I'll accept that. So be it.

But guess what? One day after the CBA issued its press release, Ueberroth dropped out of the race. When my campaign called the CBA to inquire about participating, it said the debate would now include only the top five candidates.

Why five, we asked? If the CBA intended to accommodate six candidates Sept. 8, why should it scale that back only 24 hours later? I'll tell you why. Because if you were to take a poll today, I'd bet either Mary Carey or Larry Flynt would be the sixth-most popular candidate in this election.

I know the CBA wants to keep us out of the debate because they don't consider us to be "qualified politicians." What, they don't like my proposal to tax breast implants? From Beverly Hills alone, we should bring in millions in tax revenue. And guess what? It's the "qualified politicians" that got us into this mess. It's the "qualified politicians" who saddled California with a $38-billion shortfall and 6.7% unemployment.

The San Jose Mercury News' Web site listed me as one of the eight "major players" of the recall election. The Factiva index, a Dow Jones & Reuters service, listed me as seventh among the candidates in "media mentions" in this election -- sixth when Ueberroth is dropped.

But the CBA apparently doesn't care about their opinions, or the opinions of California voters. Just what is the CBA afraid of? The Mercury News has said I have a radical platform. Yes, I'll admit that my platform is radical. But that's because radical problems demand radical solutions. And anyone who doesn't consider a $38-billion gap to be a radical problem has been watching too many Terminator movies.

Only a public outcry will cause the CBA to change its mind on this issue and hold the debate as originally planned -- with six participants. California voters need to tell the CBA not to be afraid of radical new ideas. Remember, 200 years ago Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin had some radical new ideas about government. I'd say those ideas turned out pretty good.

Even if I am not the candidate chosen for the debate, the CBA owes it to California voters to hold a fair and impartial debate with the six candidates that they have declared from day one they would have.

Mary Carey, an actor in adult films, is running for governor on the Oct. 7 recall ballot.

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