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Pantano demands Congressional debate be open to all media


WILMINGTON (WWAY) - Ilario Pantano, Republican candidate for Congress in the 7th District, is strongly urging the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce to allow more media to participate in next week's debate between him and Congressman Mike McIntyre.

While the Chamber and Cape Fear Community College are the official hosts of the debate, the Chamber reached out only to WECT-TV to formulate guidelines, choose a moderator and decide who could broadcast it and when.

"Last time I checked your viewers were all red-blooded Americans and have a very deserved opportunity to watch and to learn and to make decisions about the electorate. We need as much information and public awareness about this very important election," said Pantano. "So we're excited for WWAY to be involved in this debate and we're hopeful that the chamber is going to agree."

McIntyre's campaign also requested Thursday that WWAY-TV be allowed to participate, but as of today, the Chamber is refusing.

Both WWAY-TV and WECT-TV are members of the Chamber. Connie Majure-Rhett, President and CEO of the Chamber, says she never called WWAY-TV because she assumed the station wouldn't be interested in participating. WWAY-TV General Manager Andy Combs contacted Majure-Rhett to discuss allowing the station to incorporate another anchor to co-host and air the debate. She said she had spoken with WECT-TV General Manager Gary McNair, and they would not be able to accommodate the request.

It's common practice in the broadcasting industry during major political debates for all media to be invited to participate by either selecting a representative from each station/newspaper or choose an independent moderator.

"We feel every TV station in the Wilmington market should have been invited," Combs said, "since it's being sponsored by the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce. For a debate of this magnitude, involving all of the stations' viewing audiences is the ethical thing to do."

Thursday, the chamber announced it would not charge admission to the debate. It had originally wanted to charge members $25 and non-members $40 to attend. “

Some expressed that the cost was an obstacle to them attending, so we are doing what we can to be able to open it up to as many people as possible," said Majure-Rhett in a news release.

However, on his web site, Pantano says he requested the Chamber drop the admission fee because he thinks "people deserve fair and free access."

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


Re: Pantano

It is insane that all media were not invited to the event. People in Wilmington don't get their news from one source - if we did, we would only need one TV news channel. All in the district need to see for themselves why Congressman McIntyre has been up in Washington so long, holds no leadership positions and has done nothing for Southeastern North Carolina.


The Chamber assumed that WWAY would not be interested in participating in a major, local event???

Both candidates are requesting it, it is common pratice in the broadcasting industry and it is just the right thing to do......

Political Games

Why is it that Pantano only had issues after the public raised the questions about the media and the cost of entrance?! Political games is all he's playing. I am not a supporter of Mike McIntyre either but Ilaro is only saying what people want to hear. Look, it got him off the hook every other time.

Pantano and Media

Of course the debate should be open to all the media. How else can we be assured of an unbiased coverage, and one that is broad enough to include all the details. Pantano is right.

It's obvious Pantano wants

It's obvious Pantano wants as broad an audience as possible, and so he's pushing to include all media. There is only one reason NOT to include all media and that's to control the moderation and outcome of the debate. Seems to me Mr. McIntyre has been taking some lessons from Obama's Chicago style of politics.

For that matter

open it up district wide. TV Station in Fayetteville? Allow them access to the feed. TV station in Lumberton or the surrounding area? Allow them access.

The 7th district stretches to Fayetteville & Lumberton. Let all the voting public watch the debate.

If WWAY has its nose out of joint over the Chamber's decision to allow them to participate -- resign from the Chamber if it's that big a deal.

OR, sponser your own debate a week or 2 before November 2nd.

It just REEKS

This whole ordeal just reeks of censorship, specifically in the area of government. We are CITIZENS, we are NOT subjects. The media should NOT be restricting citizens from government proceedings, therefore all media outlets should be allowed access to this. Also, any body, such as the Chamber of Commerce, whose actions will both affect and be affected by government, should NOT be given carte blanche to decide what the citizens receive. The claim made by Majure-Rhett that they did not think other media outlets would not be interested is simply ludicrous. Also, I think WECT's unwillingness to "accommodate" the request to allow other media outlets to join is revolting. After all...who is sponsoring this event? Is it the CoC? Or is it WECT? Since WECT obviously gets to dictate who can and who cannot be a part of this, clearly WECT is in charge and the CoC is their puppet.

Way to take the high road, guys. As usual, you've once again proven my solid belief that the media are merely henchmen out to service the highest bidder.


Why would the Chamber of Commerce NOT think to contact all media sources in a Congressional debate? Makes one wonder.

RIGGING isn't only the

RIGGING isn't only the ropework on a sailing ship...

WWAY belongs at this debate and for that matter so does NPR.