The debate on the debate — Since when have this state’s mainstream political media cared what Alabamians want?
If you follow the smarter-than-thou types than report on and opine about politics for Alabama’s “mainstream” news sources – you know, the AL(dot)com, Tuscaloosa News, Montgomery Advertiser, etc. – you would learn the most pressing issue facing the state is why incumbent Republican Gov. Kay Ivey won’t participate in a debate with her Democratic Party opponent Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox.
Gambling? Nah. Roads and bridges? Nah. Health care? Nah. The University of Alabama’s starting quarterback? Heh, if only.
No. We must have a debate before we can have any of those discussions.
“Voters deserve to know who’s really making the decisions at the top of our state government,” a petulant Kyle Whitmire, who is fighting a war on dumb, wrote earlier this week. “Alabama has a right to know whether its governor can think on her feet. And frankly, we have a right to know whether the person who holds the state’s highest office can stand on stage for an hour or more and speak coherently, without someone else’s canned lines.”
A right? Having gubernatorial debates are a right like right to free speech, right to bear arms? I must have missed that in high school civics classes. But I did go to Alabama public schools. Alabamification, amirite?
Whitmire isn’t alone. Although he is the most egregious, AL(dot)com’s John Archibald made a similar plea on Friday. Add to that Tuscaloosa News provocateur Mark Mayfield’s view and the meticulous attention the Montgomery Advertiser’s indefatigable Brian Lyman gave the issue in a dispatch last week, and the takeaway is clear: A gubernatorial debate should happen.
Let’s assume they are right. Let’s say the people of Alabama are clamoring for a gubernatorial debate. They want to see Maddox versus Ivey. They want it so much that ABC affiliates all over the state of Alabama are willing to preempt “The Bachelorette: Season 14.”
When have any of the media as mentioned earlier outlets cared what the people of Alabama want, or as some of them might say “think they want?”
It’s clear that AL(dot)com does not reflect the views of the people of Alabama, or it would not stack its opinion pages with liberal bomb-throwers and Never Trump-types as its alternative “conservative” voices. Like him or not, Donald Trump won the state of Alabama handily in the 2016 primary and general election.
It goes beyond the politics. If you give AL(dot)com’s front canvas a quick scan, once you get past the Alabama and Auburn football coverage, you see a mix of viral items getting their second life as news stories and other news items with an obvious Birmingham bias (as I write this viewing their site from Mobile.)
The same goes for other media outlets. In state races where the Democrat is thought to be a long-shot, the two are treated as if they have an equal shot – kind of like the way Maddox is viewed against Ivey.
The moral of this story: If we’re to believe that the call for a gubernatorial debate from Alabama’s political press is authentic, heartfelt and indeed done so in the best interest of Alabamians, maybe approach the news in Alabama in a way that reflects the mood of people in the state first. It’s just an idea.