Sunday, Feb. 20, 2005
Milquetoast Dems should start piping up
SC Statehouse Report
20, 2005 - - Imagine if the S.C. House of Representatives
were still run by Democrats and, seemingly out of the blue,
the state's public television network offered a free show
to the speaker of the House.
It would be a very good bet that the House Republican Caucus
would wail and moan. GOP representatives would cry outrage
and get hot under the collar. They'd say it was unfair for
Democrats to have a free show and Republicans to get no equal
reality, it's GOP House Speaker David Wilkins who hosts the
free show every Tuesday morning on SCETV's year-old S.C. Channel
to give a weekly overview of what's happening in the House.
Reporters and editors from around the state can call-in to
ask questions of the House's top official.
And the Democrats? They're as quiet as titmice. Other than
a sole comment earlier this month to The State that he was
"shocked" by the new program, House Minority Leader
Harry Ott and the whole Democratic Party seem to be looking
the other way.
Their silence is deafening. If Democrats want to be players
in South Carolina politics, they're going to have to react
when political opportunities like the new show arise as the
easy lob that a 6-year-old kid could hit out of the park.
Otherwise, they might just as well stay at home.
On Feb. 8, SCETV broadcast the first show of "This Week
in the State House with Speaker David H. Wilkins." In
the show, which is on the network's SC Channel digital subscriber
service and some cable systems, Wilkins outlines public policy
debates in what his staff describes as a non-partisan manner.
Ott was invited to respond in an interview taped later the
first week, but didn't on the second.
WORLD: Computer incompatibility
Libertarianism gone wild
Thumbs up/down and mixed reviews
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Please keep your comment to 250 words or less:
Although the show serves a laudable public purpose of trying
to provide information about the inner-workings of government
for S.C. citizens, it's being executed in a lousy manner.
Spending tax money for only a House Republican-hosted talk
show is plain wrong.
While the speaker may try to be non-partisan in his comments,
he is the leading Republican in the House and his comments
come through the filter of being Republican.
"Having both sides of the argument represented is superior,"
said Alex S. Jones, a distinguished journalist who runs the
Joan Shorenstein Center for Press, Politics and Public Policy
at Harvard University.
For SCETV to be fair and balanced, it should modify the current
show to be more of a debate that always has two seats - -
one for Wilkins and another for a Democratic leader. SCETV
shouldn't use canned, taped interviews of Democrats. And it
shouldn't have to rely on Wilkins to be the umpire in charge
of inviting Democrats to be on the show. (If the Democrats
don't show up, leave the chair empty.)
Or, SCETV could provide a similar news platform for Democrats
- - a separate show - - at a standard time to allow its leaders
to respond and discuss how they view state policy initiatives.
An SCETV official says the network would be able to provide
such a platform if Democrats would show up consistently and
exude desire to do so.
Two other observations:
- S.C. Senate. State senators of both parties should
be wailing and moaning too, because the last time we checked,
the General Assembly was a bicameral body. By having a show
devoted to the House, SCETV is ignoring the chamber that
generally is the key player in state public policy debates.
(The House often starts major issues, but the Senate's more
lengthy discussions often are the keys to what eventually
- S.C. press. A sponsor of the current show, the
S.C. Press Association, believes it to be a wonderful opportunity
for reporters and editors from around the state to interact
with Wilkins. Hogwash. Wilkins and other state leaders are
accessible. If reporters and editors have questions, all
they have to do is call them or go see them. To say the
show is needed to improve accessibility is just unsound
reasoning for institutionalizing media laziness.
South Carolina's future depends on healthy public policy
debates. Democrats need to engage. The state needs, at a minimum,
a real two-party system. Otherwise, the state will slip into
Full disclosure: Statehouse Report is
an associate member of the S.C. Press Association. Statehouse
Report and SCETV have an in-kind advertising promotional
2/20: Computer incompatibility
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2/12: Libertarianism gone wild
To the editor:
So now we know who Mark Sanford really is. An elitist for
sure, eccentric to be nice. But WIS-TV
reports that Governor Sanford has now gained the firm title
of Scrooge. He has cut over $180,000.00 to a camp for campers
who need wheelchairs, feeding tubes and round-the-clock care.
Camp Burnt Gin provides a place for these children like no
other. What better place for the state to invest a meager
$200,000.00 than to help the least of these. The Governor's
own budget and the salaries and office expenses of Chris Drummond
and Will Folks could more than cover the costs.
Come on Governor Sanford, let's get back in the real world!
Give the kids the money, if they raise more, then so be it!
-- Sandy Gibson, Lexington, S.C.
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Indian tribes. Hats off to the Waccamaw Indian People
and the Pee Dee Nation for becoming two new officially recognized
tribes in the state.
Hollings. A Wednesday ceremony to unveil a portrait
of former Sen. Fritz Hollings was a great tribute -- and Republican
and Democratic speakers were funny, respectful and thankful
for his service.
Sanford. The governor got a lot of people to rally
for school vouchers during the week, but suffered a nasty
attack from The State for being the "leader of the clueless"
on tougher seatbelt legislation.
Tort reform. Proponents of caps on non-economic damages
on medical malpractice laws believe they'll lower insurance
rates, but data shows they're living in a dream world. The
people who will be hurt are those who are hurting. It's a
big win, however, for big business.
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