John Jay Myers, Texas' Libertarian Senate Hopeful, Barred from KERA's Debate

Categories: Campaign News

John Jay Myers.jpg
Last night's Senate debate between Ted Cruz and Paul Sadler got surprisingly heated, with the two men snapping at each other about illegal immigration, healthcare, where Barack Obama was born and whether Ted Cruz is, in fact, a troll.

Meanwhile, John Jay Myers, the Libertarian Senate candidate who did not participate in last night's debate, has also been disqualified from KERA's October 19 debate.

We know this because Myers sent us his email exchange with Rick Holter, the vice president of KERA's news division. We've reproduced it in full, because it's important and newsworthy. Not because we enjoy watching people bicker. Certainly not.

The exchange we were sent begins with Holter and ends with Myers:

Dear Mr. Myers; In considering participants for our Oct. 19 U.S. Senate debate, KERA has applied the viewpoint-neutral criteria outlined in its longstanding Texas Debates guidelines: We have determined that your campaign, measured against those criteria, does not qualify for inclusion in our upcoming debate. Best wishes, Rick Holter Vice President/News

Rick, I really do need to get specific here on which criteria you believe we do not match. I don't want to unfairly target PBS, but this time we are going to go after sponsors to let them know how we feel.

Right now we feel as if the whole of the media is creating such obstacles that they force a two party system on the American people.

We feel it is a version of voter fraud, as a matter of fact here is a video of me in Austin talking about this exact subject in front of 400 students:

I believe Public broadcasting has to be held to a much higher standard than WFAA when it comes to fairness to all candidates.

Again, please be specific in regards to how you feel we do not match your criteria so we can do two things:

1. Try to establish that we do meet those metrics in order for us to get in the debate.
2. Use them as part of our FCC filing, Sponsor targeting and general press releases.

John Jay Myers

Dear Mr. Myers, Thanks for getting back to me. As I wrote before, after careful deliberation, we determined that your campaign did not meet KERA's viewpoint-neutral criteria. Ultimately, this is the editorial decision we've made based on our longstanding Texas Debates guidelines. Thanks again, Rick Holter
I understand that you feel your guidelines are somehow above reproach, but if we are not allowed to know which guidelines you feel we are not qualifying for, how will we argue against it? All we are asking is that you send us an email that makes clear which qualifications you don't feel we meet. Which "viewpoint-neutral criteria" have we not achieved? Thanks! John Jay Myers
Dear Mr. Myers; Sorry, we are not going to get into any more detail about our editorial process. Rick Holter
So in the end your "viewpoint neutral criteria" are actually subjective?

I mean obviously "viewpoint neutral" suggests that you are not making subjective judgments. But if you can't explain to a campaign where they have not qualified for your objective criteria, then you are no longer objective.

I think it will be important to the supporters and sponsors of KERA that this information be transparent.

John Jay Myers

Houston Area Liberty Campaign , a Libertarian-leaning political blog, is calling on its readers to call, email and comment-flood KERA's article announcing the debate. A number of people have cheerily obliged. Some of them have even chimed in with demands that the Green Party candidate also be included. His name, by the way, is David Collins.

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KERA and WFAA think that by excluding less well known candidates, they're making their debates more serious.  They couldn't be more wrong.  The actual effect of their policies is to make the debates less serious because there's no substantive challenge to the major party candidates' messages beyond the narrow areas where the two sets of messages clash.  These areas are already well plowed ground.  Areas where the major party candidates agree wind up completely unexamined.  The central messages of Libertarians and Greens are strongly supported within wings of the major parties, and a huge number of voters would like to hear them debated.


WFAA and KERA are imposing the equivalent of crony capitalism on the marketplace of ideas.


It's funny to see liberals seething over public radio for a change...


Anna, thanks for all the reporting you've done on this issue. I've kept up with your articles since meeting you at Myers' first WFAA protest. Keep it up! Without you and Dallas Observer few people would know about all of this.


Garry Reed

Dallas Libertarian Examiner


"Dear Mr. Myers; Sorry, we are not going to get into any more detail about our editorial process. Rick Holter"


What is KERA hiding?  Journalists are required to report the truth, not hide behind a veil of secrecy.  They can't answer a simple question as to which criterion was not met?  Really??


A call on KERA sponsors to withdraw support is more than called for, it's actually in the public interest.  We cannot have purported "news agencies" that refuse to broaden our political debate by censoring candidates who will be on the ballot, and refuse to say why.  Such attacks on core functioning of the American political system cannot be allowed to stand.


Thanks to the Observer for reporting on this important situation.


In all fairness, it sucks for Mr. Myers that he won't get to debate, but I'm betting more people are reading this than will be watching KERA's debate anyway. He may be better off.


[Important caveat: I could be wrong about all of that. I have no idea what the hell I'm talking about.]

mavdog topcommenter

Although I sympathise with Meyer in how he is being excluded, the fact that it was just Sadler and Cruz made for an entertaining and more revealing debate.


The ability of Sadler to continually confront Cruz, and expose Cruz for the unqualified, rhetoric without depth of knowledge charlatan that he clearly is, would not have been possible with another person in the discussion.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

I agree with Mr. Meyers' points.  Mr. Meyer is on the ballot for this office.  Clearly he met all of the requirements for being a candidate is qualified to be a candidate.  Now, whether or not you want him to be a Senator is an entirely different question.


Both KERA and WFAA are putting themselves between us and the voting booth in deciding who gets the free publicity.


KERA's lack of transparency in providing the basis for who may participate is very troubling.  Essentially, they are saying that this is an editorial decision.  Being an editorial decision is nothing but misdirection that KERA is using their position as  a broadcaster to state their opinion.


I am interested as well in what are KERA's criteria.


Who cares? The fact that you keep giving this clown attention just makes this paper look all the more foolish.


 @flickboy You realize there's no journalistic version of the Hippocratic Oath, right? The whole "journalists have a duty" rhetoric is more wishful thinking than grounded in reality.


The fact that you act so flippantly towards censorship of anyone not married to the two-party system shows how little that you realize you are being raped by it. Who is the fool?

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @Anna_Merlan Thank you Anna ... I am of the opinion that beyond the first two, no media organization has the ability (or right) to censor any candidate by excluding them from a publicly aired campaign event.


I point to the DMN's tepid endorsement of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, which can be summed up as:


"Well, she really isn't all that bad and we don't think that she will be worse than the other candidates."



If he doesn't meet one of the criteria, they should say so. The fact that they are unwilling to say what exact criteria he does not meet to me means that the dicision is not based on this criteria. It also means I will no longer listen to or watch any of the KERA stations.

I'm hoping he publishes a list of sponsors, that way I can let them know that I do not approve of their sponsorship. 

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