Censor me – please


It sounds like a new horizon in the application of the First Amendment, but the decision of WFMZ-TV in Allentown PA to censor a congressional candidate’s remarks made during a debate was done after careful deliberation, research and acquisition of permission from all involved parties. In the debate, challenger Sam Bennett (D-PA) mentioned that a pair of banks had failed. The remark was not challenged by incumbent Charlie Dent (R-PA) or the debate moderator.

The only problem was that the banks hadn’t failed. The Bennett campaign acknowledged that the candidate had misspoken and meant to say the banks had nearly failed.

However, the debate was taped, so the station took advantage of the opportunity to make amends. The Bennett campaign was agreeable to striking the comment from the tape, and the Dent campaign also went along. The station also ran the idea past the FCC and NAB. By the time the debate was aired, the reference was scrubbed, so as not to cause any confusion among viewers, with a disclaimer explaining what had been done.

RBR/TVBR observation: It is refreshing to see such adult behavior all around, even in the middle of an election campaign, where the subtle dynamics of a particularly unruly kindergarten playground are usually more in evidence.