Don't Worry, Charlie, the Media Have Your Back
Around the State
Really? Jumping all over Rick Scott for not debating Charlie Crist? Really?
Anybody still blind to the party stripes on Florida's largest mainstream media empire should look at stories in the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald today -- actually, same story, different headlines.
First paragraph from Steve Bousquet of the Times: "For the second time in a week, Gov. Rick Scott has decided not to share a spotlight with his leading Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist."
Really? Charlie Crist, the candidate who refuses to debate Nan Rich, his primary opponent, member of his own party?
Shame on you, media, for letting Crist, hypocrite of the highest order, make fools of you.
Would Barack Obama have debated Mitt Romney while Romney was still battling Newt Gingrich in New Hampshire?
Would Bill Nelson have debated Connie Mack IV before Mack had sorted out George LeMieux and Dave Weldon?
In 2010 Rick Scott cheerfully debated Alex Sink -- a real Democrat with real convictions -- when most of Tallahassee, led by the media, were ready to boil him in oil. Charlie, meanwhile, doesn't have convictions, he has a bum gubernatorial record and a playbook of talking points. What makes anybody in Pressworld think a meeting with Crist, comparatively speaking, could be anything for Scott but a walk in the park?
Certainly the Crist camp knows its media friends and figures it can get away with in-your-face hypocrisy. Tweeted Crist spokesman Kevin Cate Thursday morning, "For those keeping score, Rick Scott is willing to spend $11+ mil on TV smearing @CharlieCrist, but not willing to attend a moderated forum."
Naturally, Scott’s team struck back with a new website, counting the days since Crist refused to debate Rich. They called for Crist to debate Rich, adding the governor will take on whoever wins the Democratic primary in the fall.
Nan Rich is Crist's primary opponent. She has been in the race for two years -- a committed Democrat with liberal principles voters can set their compasses by. She deserves respect, from the party and especially from Charlie Crist.
The FDP knocks Rich because she lacks name recognition and cash. Why wouldn't she? From the day in 2012 her campaign opened, the party gave her no legitimacy. None. They did more for Allie Braswell and William Rankin than they did for a distinguished Florida senator, the state's first female Senate minority leader. Imagine what she might have done with their wind behind her sails from the beginning?
As for Crist, I've heard him mention Rich twice. On both occasions, he preceded his comments with "... And Nan Rich, bless her heart ..." The "bless her heart" is code for "poor thing." What condescending rubbish.
Rich accepted an invitation from the Florida Society of News Editors and the Florida Press Association to appear at a July 10 candidate forum at the organization's annual convention at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. But guess what? As soon as Charlie Crist was involved, Rich was shunted to another day, and the 10th was reserved for Crist and Rick Scott.
Dean Ridings, president and CEO of Intersect Media Solutions -- who represents both organizations -- told Sunshine State News all hope isn't lost for a Scott appearance. "We just heard from his campaign and they said the governor would be doing debates and forums at the appropriate times, so we took that to mean they're keeping the door open."
Would a Scott non-appearance mean Crist and Rich could face off at the July 10 forum together? "No," Ridings said. "We'll keep the 10th open for Gov. Scott. If he decides to come, good. If not, we'll have Charlie Crist." Ridings said the convention program is too crowded to fit a third candidate in on the same day.
I'm disappointed in FSNE and FPA. Do they really think, given a choice, most convention participants would want these three separated?
Personally, I think Rich's campaign spokesman Sterling Clifford said it best. He told me, "The way I see it, we have two Republican governors who won't debate and one Democratic governor candidate who will."
He said, "You would think, wouldn't you, that a group of editors would make these guys feel confident of the questions and format? But I guess not. Nan isn't ducking anything or anybody."
As for the media, well.
If the candidates for governor were golfers and the media were the club, Scott would get a 4 handicap and Crist a 35. Rich would be lucky to get a cart rental.
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423.