(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
POLS UPDATE: The Boulder Daily Camera’s Sarah Kuta has more from CU Chancellor Phil DiStefano’s response to student outcry over the lack of access to the GOP presidential debate–and sorry to say, we don’t think this will placate anybody:
University of Colorado Chancellor Phil DiStefano is defending his decision to host — and foot the bill for — the Republican presidential debate on campus this month after students loudly criticized the number of tickets available to the CU community…
He emphasized that cable news network CNBC is hosting and organizing the debate, and thus has control over its format and things like audience size. The Republican National Committee is in charge of distributing tickets, he wrote.
He explained that the debate on Oct. 28 is “not a public event,” and is instead a TV broadcast with a studio audience.
“It’s not the same layout as hosting a basketball game,” he wrote, noting the need for an “extensive” stage set-up, lighting and cameras. [Pols emphasis]
The excuse that TV production equipment makes it impossible to fit more than 1,000 people in an 11,000 seat sports stadium is, to put it nicely, quite dubious. We haven’t spoken to a single person of any political persuasion who believes that, and it’s just too easy to understand why Republican organizers don’t want any meaningful number of CU students in the audience for this debate.
It is therefore no small surprise to see them sticking with this feeble excuse–especially when CNBC has so far refused to validate any part of it. Original post follows…
The Colorado Republican Party is blaming CNBC for severely limiting the number of seats available at its Oct. 28 presidential debate at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
But CNBC, which you’d think would advocate for maximum transparency and public access, hasn’t accepted the blame. Instead, strangely, it’s not commenting. What gives?
“We don’t actually know how many seats there are going to be yet,” said Colorado GOP Chair Steve House, discussing the upcoming presidential debate on KFKA’s Stacy Petty show Sept. 23.“The Coors Events Center holds 11,000, but networks are going to narrow that down to a very small number because, for some reason, they think that people might act out, right?”
CU is also blaming CNBC, sort of. In a statement about the limited seating, CU Chancellor Phillip P. DiStefano said: “The debate is being produced and led by CNBC. They determine the audience size, debate format and other aspects of the event. The Republican National Committee is in charge of ticket distribution.”
DiStefano said CNBC determines the audience size, but he was mum about the actual factual audience size set by CNBC for the event. It could have 1,000. It could have been 10,000. What was audience size that the RNC was working with?
We know the CU’s Coors events center holds 11,000 people. The RNC is reportedly distributing just 1,000 tickets, with 100 going to CU students. So did CNBC determine the 1,000 number?
A CNBC spokesman declined to comment to me this morning, as it’s done before about this matter, making CNBC look like it’s running political cover for the RNC. That’s not an appealing role for a journalistic entity.
CNBC’s silence allows the RNC to get away with not taking responsibility for the limited seating, especially because House, the local Republican leader, is flat-out blaming CNBC.
Here’s an example of what the RNC is saying:
“These debates are designed for a television audience and the millions of people who will tune in,” said Fred Brown, an RNC spokesman, according to the Durango Herald. “We look forward to the attention an event of this scale will bring the university.”
Any CNBC reporter, or any self-respecting journalist for that matter, would find that spin revolting. But normally, a journalist couldn’t do much about it. In this case, however, the information to expose the spin resides within the journalistic outfit itself. That would be CNBC.
I’m hoping CNBC will do journalism a favor and start explaining what’s going on here.