Reasons given to block Oz Griebel from debate outdated and wrong

I have known Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere of The Day of New London for close to four decades. I have always found him to be open to new ideas, fair, and a straight-shooter. His defense, however, of the decision to exclude independent Oz Griebel from this week’s gubernatorial debate at the Garde Arts Center puts him, The Day, WTNH and WTNH’s parent company Nexstar on the wrong side of history.

The standards The Day and its debate co-sponsors are using to determine who should be allowed on the debate stage are not relevant in today’s media world. The use of social media, and other digital means, to reach voters has made multi-million- dollar television ad campaigns less effective. The barrage of competing negative 30-second ads tend to cancel each other out. Across the country, upset victories by candidates with no track record in politics show that traditional polling is no longer an accurate measure of how voters make decisions on Election Day.

Oz Griebel is not a fringe third-party candidate. He has a strong record of involvement in the area of public policy in Connecticut. If he were allowed to take the stage on Wednesday night his knowledge of the issues, his fair-minded approach, and his honesty would be apparent for all to see. Viewers would see a distinct difference among the candidates and a clear choice. 

Instead, The Day, and its co-sponsors, have decided to exclude that voice. The Day has editorialized several times over the last few months about a lack of new ideas or thoughtful ideas from the two major party candidates. Like Oz Griebel, The Day has suggested the two-party system has failed Connecticut. Yet, by excluding Oz, The Day is denying the voters of Connecticut the chance to evaluate a credible third choice side by side with Ned Lamont and Bob Stefanowski.

What is worse, is that when all logical arguments fail, both The Day and WTNH hide behind the debate rules as set by WTNH’s Texas-based parent company, Nexstar. This shows a lack of courage to stand up for the local audience both The Day and WTNH are supposed to put first.

Dean Pagani is a public relations consultant who has served as an unpaid advisor to Oz Griebel’s campaign for governor.



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