Our ethical alarms went off Tuesday when we learned that News10’s Marcey Brightwell was serving as a moderator for an “Ask the Governor” Webcast sponsored by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign.
After all, Brightwell is a political reporter, and it’s only natural that the questions on said Webcast would be screened by the guv’s handlers. Is this a blatant conflict, or what?
Absolutely not, says News10 honcho Stacy Owen. “We saw this as an opportunity to tap into what the voters wanted to hear this political season,” Owen writes in an e-mail to 21Q. “Marcey was selecting from numerous questions from constituents, ensuring that the governor was not being handed ‘softballs’ by his staff. She also asked her own follow-up questions, to make sure the voter question was in fact being properly addressed.
“Marcey and News10 agreed to participate in this forum to encourage debate about the issues...Many people will never get the opportunity to ask the governor, or Mr. Angelides, questions directly. Part of our role is to serve as that connector. We have the access, and we want to use it to engage the public."
Owen adds: “We did contact Mr. Angelides’ campaign to give him the opportunity for equal time, and they decided not to respond to this specific event. We also suggested Marcey serve as moderator for a similar voter give- and-take for Mr. Angelides.”
OK then. In any event, the best soundbite was the final question Brightwell asked the Guv:
BRIGHTWELL: I'm sort of hesitant, because it kind of gives me a Barbara Walters flashback to it. But this comes from Mark from Fresno, who says: Governor, if you were a color, what would it be?
GOVERNOR: Probably red, even though this is not my political thinking. When you think of red in Europe, it means communism, socialism and all those things. But I like the color red because it is fire, and I see myself as always being on fire, being charged up, so to speak. So that's my favorite color.
BRIGHTWELL: And by coincidence, the color of News10.
GOVERNOR: There you have it. What a coincidence.
-- Sam McManis