Press coverage was rigged at Cuomo/Pataki debate
by G. M. Heller
Updated: Sunday, March 18, 2001 07:00 PM
In a revelation that may shock some and come as
no surprise to others, an informed source alleges that press coverage of
the famous October 1994
‘no-show' gubernatorial debate, between
then three-term incumbent Governor Mario M. Cuomo and then freshman
state Senator George E. Pataki, was rigged in advance by the organizer
and moderator of the event, in order to favor Mr. Cuomo.
informed source revealed to WAMC Pirate that the debate's organizer
Alan Seth Chartock, who is political commentator for
WAMC 90.3 FM Northeast Public Radio, rigged press coverage
of the event by making sure in advance that reporters favorable to Mr.
Cuomo would be the ones on hand to cover the event when it was broadcast
live from the public television studios of WMHT-TV, Channel 17 in
Schenectady on Friday evening, October 14, 1994. Mr. Chartock, a professor
of political science at the
State University of New York, also serves
as WAMC's chairman and executive director.
contact Gov. Pataki, Gov. Cuomo & WAMC's Chartock,Click
The debate, held just three and a half weeks before election day, was the
first and only time the two main party candidates were to square-off against
each other on the same stage in what the Albany Times-Union then
labeled 'the most hotly contested gubernatorial election in 12 years.'
the days prior to the event, there was intense public bickering between
the two political camps as to format, with Mr. Pataki arguing for one-on-one
debate, while Mr. Cuomo pressed for inclusion of third-party candidates.
Debate between the two main candidates never occurred though, because
Senator Pataki decided at the last minute not to participate. The
event, which had been given substantial advance publicity statewide, became
little more than a forum for Governor Cuomo to defend his policies and
reforms. It also gave third-party candidates on the dais some much
needed media exposure.
Senator Pataki's decision not to show up at the debate generated a great
deal of criticism from those who claimed Mr. Pataki was afraid to debate
Mr. Cuomo. The critics though, were no match for the majority of
the electorate, and three weeks later Mr. Pataki became New York's next
Governor Pataki's office was notified this past Friday morning about
the revelations and asked to comment whether or not he knew at the time
that press coverage of the debate had been rigged against him, and whether
that had played a role in his decision not to participate. Late Friday
afternoon, the Governor's press officer,
Joe Conway, responded that,
at this time, the Governor declines to comment on the matter.
Telephone calls and E-mail inquiries made this past Friday morning to
Governor Cuomo at his law office in Manhattan have not been returned.
Telephoned inquiries made Friday to Alan Chartock at his WAMC office,
and at his Great Barrington home have not been returned.
The televised debate was broadcast from the studios of WMHT-TV, and
simulcast over WAMC's radio network, with other public radio and television
stations across the state picking up the broadcast feed.
The alleged rigging of the Cuomo/Pataki debate coverage was brought
to the attention of WAMC Pirate by the informed source, an individual
connected to Mr. Chartock's WAMC Northeast Public Radio network, who granted
permission to tape record portions of a three and one-half hour interview
on the condition that the source's anonymity be preserved.
The following taped excerpts are transcribed from that interview:
WAMC Pirate: "Do you remember specific
instances when he (Mr. Chartock) would try to slant news to favor Mr. Cuomo?"
his 12-year administration, Governor Cuomo appeared weekly on Mr. Chartock's
WAMC radio interview program 'The Capitol Connection'. After
the 1994 defeat, Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Chartock decided to continue the interviews,
but the show's name was changed to 'Me and Mario'. It continues
to air weekly over WAMC as well as on a number of other radio stations
across the country. 'The Capitol Connection' still airs weekly
as well, and remains an interview program about New York State government,
but Governor Pataki has thus far declined all invitations to appear.
Source: "Well, I remember there was a conference that Alan.......a
news......there was a......something that Alan put together actually.
It was......when Mario Cuomo went and they had a......it was during the
election when he lost to Pataki.
organized at Channel (17) a debate between Mario Cuomo and these other
two candidates. I don‘t remember who they were, and they invited
Pataki. Pataki did not show up.
"But just I remember Alan Chartock was on the phone with other news organizations
trying to get certain reporters to be out sent to cover this.
"Else why would he want a certain reporter to be sent to cover this?
If he didn't know that reporter's, ya know, preferences, in other words."
WAMC Pirate: "So you feel that the reporters that
he chose to, and he requested to......"
Source: "He would request......"
WAMC Pirate: ".....cover this, that they were more
predisposed to favorable report on......"
Source: "Sure! Right! Whatever Alan's agenda
was. Yes! Cause he has Albany wrapped-up like that."
WAMC Pirate: "Okay, so his coordination of it, what
you're concerned about is, the coordination of it, from the standpoint
that there was a bias involved?"
Source: "Right! Well for, ya know, the few
days beforehand, Alan would talk to people with different newspapers around
through the region. I guess (Albany) Times-Union was
one of them.
"He'd have the certain reporters picked out, ya know, ya know the ones
that were gonna cover this debate, and he knew damn well, ya know, that
these people were favoring Cuomo, so that's who he had.
"He'd try to get them there, because he (Mr. Chartock) was in the pocket
with this guy (Mr. Cuomo). Him and the Governor."
Governor George E. Pataki, e-mail at: email@example.com
former Governor Mario M. Cuomo, e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
WAMC Chairman Alan Seth Chartock, e-mail at: email@example.com
to the radio program 'Me and Mario', Click
©2001 WAMC Northeast Pirate Network®/™
The 'Me and Mario'
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'Copyright 2001 by WAMC Northeast Public Radio, Inc.®
- All Rights Reserved.'
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