WRAL TV's exclusion of the Libertarian candidate for governor from their September 9 debate amounts to a "separate but equal" policy, said Dr. Mike Munger, Libertarian candidate for governor.
The station has refused to include Dr. Munger in the debate, citing their policy of only including candidates who poll at least 10 percent. Yet the station cited no specific examples and failed to note that Dr. Munger has not been included in many of the polls.
Further, on January 17 the station sponsored a gubernatorial primary debate in which no fewer than three of the candidates were then polling at much less than 10 percent.
"So, the policy is applied arbitrarily and is simply something concocted to restrict voter access to information," charged Dr. Munger.
WRAL did invite Dr. Munger to tape a half-hour interview, which they said might be made available on their web site, as a substitute for full participation in the televised debate.
In reply to the e-mail invitation from Ms. Leesa M. Craigie, WRAL operations manager, Dr. Munger cited a 1950 civil rights case, Sweatt v. Painter. Heman Sweatt, an African-American, applied to the University of Texas Law School, but was told a "separate accommodation" would be made for him.
"This was one room, over a pool hall, with some law books," said Dr. Munger.
"The State of Texas cared so much about keeping blacks out of their school that they swore, under oath, that this one-room law school was just as good as the main UT Law School, one of the best in the nation."
Sweatt rejected the alternative. "There is now a gym named after him on the UT campus," Dr. Munger noted.
"You seem to think that you are doing me a favor by offering me the equivalent of one room over a pool hall, when by any standard my application for participation in the debate deserves your full consideration," Munger wrote to Craigie.
As a media company that affects to care about the public good, WRAL should not make decisions that clearly protect the entrenched interests of the political duopoly that controls this state, said Munger. "More than 100,000 North Carolinians signed petitions to ensure that they got to exercise a real choice in November. But you are denying it to them."
Dr. Munger has testified before the U.S. Senate, been the President of an international academic society, and director of the master of public administration program at UNC-Chapel Hill. He has been chair of political science department at Duke University for nearly a decade.
"I'll not be bought off by your insulting 'one-room-over-a-pool hall' offer," he said. "I am a qualified candidate. I should be in the debate."