The station many left-wing democrats in Baltimore have become disgusted with over the past two years due to their slanted investigational coverage of city schools in the series entitled ‘Project Baltimore’, has now sunk to a new low with their latest ‘City in Crisis’ town halls.
Fox45, the local news station owned and operated by the same right-wing Sinclair Broadcasting Group that owns Fox News, has recently come under fire for their continuing conservative correspondence that had once alluded the city’s leading morning news station. But over the past two years, the management at Fox45 has apparently began taking their cue from the national syndicate, who remains the #1 watched news station in the country – and the most unapologetically conservative and some would say racist.
And while the ‘Project Baltimore’ series had some scratching their heads as to their overall agenda, the latest town hall series has many political candidates crying foul, as it appears as if the station has purposely violated the Federal Election Commission’s Communications Act of 1934. This ruling, which originated from the Radio Act of 1927, requires any and all radio and television broadcast stations to provide an equivalent opportunity for airtime to any political candidate that requests it – otherwise known as the equal-time rule.
Sign the petition to DEMAND FOX News from allowing certain mayoral candidates from appearing on their town halls, and to allow ALL the mayoral candidates to give their platforms on crime and education! http://chng.it/fcYLXcx7ZG
Now, while this rule applies only to candidates who have filed for a particular political office, and has a few exceptions including debates hosted by outside organizations that don’t have to offer minor-party or independent candidates time, or if the airing was within a documentary or on-the-spot news event; it doesn’t appear as if Fox45’s periodical town halls falls into any of these categories. However, after originally inviting the major candidates for mayor out to the first town hall, and being rebuffed by incumbent Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Council President Brandon Scott – at the time the city’s two leading candidates for Mayor – Fox45 has appeared unwilling to give any other mayoral candidate time on stage, other than their chosen one, attorney Thiru Vignarajah.
You may remember Mr. Vignarajah, who unsuccessfully ran for State’s Attorney in Baltimore City last year, and had come under fire in years past due to a video recorded by the right-wing organization Project Veritas, that caught him attempting to sleep with a woman (who the group planted in a bar), while he was married, and was caught attempting to tell state secrets while he was a member of Maryland’s Attorney General’s Office. However, it appears now that the ultra-liberal mayoral candidate has become the darling of the right-wing movement led by Fox45, since he has taken them up on their offer to slam every local politician he can while making the city look bad during these town halls.
But when African American mayoral candidates such businessman Rikki Vaughn requested joining the town hall, even when the invited mayoral candidates didn’t show, Fox45 refused their request. However, that didn’t stop the two mayoral candidates from seeking to get the same, equal airtime as Fox was providing Vignarajah at all of these town halls. In fact, they showed up to each and every town hall, requesting to be put on the stage to share their plans for a safer Baltimore, and each time they were denied.
When they were told to request a meeting with the Fox45 executives, they did just that, but to no one’s surprise, that request fell on deaf ears. So now Fox45 stands in clear violation of the equal-time rule, having given Mr. Vignarajah countless time on-air at various televised town halls, while refusing to allow each candidate running for mayor the same time.
And here’s the real kicker, both Vaughn and other lesser known candidates are actually filed candidates for Mayor, while Mr. Vignarajah has only announced his candidacy but has yet to officially file with the board of elections. So Fox45, who has all but endorsed this man for his so-called “crime plan” and his “fresh and new ideas”, decided to give valuable airtime to a non-filed mayoral candidate even while denying the same airtime to individuals who actually have skin in the game by filing their paperwork and paying their money to be a part of the 2020 contest.
Now I’m sure Fox45 will use the excuse that Vignarajah was merely a guest, invited on to the program every time they’ve had one because of his “legal background”, not his mayoral aspirations; however, every time his name is shown during these town halls, it appears with the title, “candidate for mayor” not former Attorney General or attorney. They will also try to use the provision that states that equal time does not apply to scheduled newscasts, but given that these town halls aren’t newscasts but rather specifically designed educational programs like a debate, then one could argue that they have violated this FEC provision since they are the group sponsoring the telecast, not an outside organization.
It also shouldn’t surprise many that while Vignarajah has been their go-to democratic candidate for mayor at each town hall, they also invited and allowed for other “major” mayoral candidates such as Senator Mary Washington and former Baltimore City Police Spokesman T.J. Smith to join Thiru onstage at the latest town hall. Now one could make the case of Washington being a major candidate given her current elected status, and given the fact that she has filed for the office; however, how does a former police spokesman who hasn’t even filed for the position yet become more of a major candidate than those of Vaughn and others, who have been in the race for months and who have paid for campaign signs, billboards and other political signage across the city?
This is one of those defining moments Baltimore, where we must begin to ask ourselves, when is enough be enough? Will we continue to allow news publications such as the Sinclair-based Fox45 continue to violate the Federal Election Commission’s rules around such media coverage, while pretending it doesn’t exist because the candidates whose rights are being violated are not our chosen candidate?
Or will we rise up and let this right-wing station know that we won’t allow any candidate, or voter of this city, go voiceless simply because Fox45 rather push an agenda that clearly is not in the best interest of our communities. It’s time we took stand and told the executives over at Fox45 that we won’t stand for their crap!
I would ask that every person reading this article sign this petition demanding that all filed mayoral candidates be given equal time at these town hall meetings. Also begin to call and/or email Fox45 and demand that ALL the filed candidates for Mayor be allowed on stage at these town halls, or else they won’t receive one viewer from the Baltimore area until they comply. (410.467.4545 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
And I would challenge every candidate, running for office in 2020, to sign the petition, contact Fox45 and tell them that you won’t spend one red cent in advertising dollars if all candidates, major or minor, aren’t given the same opportunity as the candidates they have had on thus far.