No YouTube for you

Story by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

Dave Rexrode is all up in arms about news reports that said that his boss, Congressman Bob Goodlatte, would be participating in a YouTube debate hosted by his Democratic challenger, Sam Rasoul.

There’s just one problem. No such news reports exist. I have scoured the Googler and found three references to the news item involving the Rasoul-sponsored debate – one on the AFP, one on the WHSV-TV3 website and one on the WSLS-TV10 website. The only one of the three that even mentions Goodlatte’s name is the one in the AFP, and there is nothing in that report that states or hints or implies that Goodlatte had agreed to participate.

That didn’t stop Rexrode from sending a statement to local media outlets claiming the contrary. “In recent days a few news organizations in the 6th Congressional District have run stories that stated Congressman Bob Goodlatte would be participating in a YouTube debate that is being organized, paid for and sponsored by our opponent’s campaign,” the Goodlatte campaign manager said in a statement published in a story on the News Leader website yesterday. “Those news stories are inaccurate. We never agreed to this debate and were only informed of it after Mr. Rasoul’s campaign had issued a media alert announcing it, forwarded the press release to their supporters in an effort to encourage them to submit questions, and read a news article online announcing that we were participating.”

This a lot of to-do about nothing, considering that the whole premise of the Rasoul-sponsored debate was a lot of to-do about nothing. I think most of us were well-aware upon first hearing of the idea that the notion that this was going to be a real debate was never going to fly with Goodlatte’s camp or with Janice Lee Allen’s camp when they read the part about how it was being sponsored by the Rasoul campaign. And another problem that I’ve been having with it is with the website of the newspaper that is reported to be acting as the moderator on behalf of the Rasoul effort, The Lynchburg Ledger. I’ve been trying for days to take a quick look at the Ledger to learn more about it, but I haven’t been able to access its website, and we’re going on day three of my efforts in that respect.

So this YouTube debate was a bad idea executed poorly, in my view, though I will concede that there is probably some value in that it gave Rasoul a chance to get a press release out to the media and published on a few websites to get a couple of minutes of free media, with a redux in a few weeks when Rasoul’s responses to the questions end up getting posted on YouTube.

That said, the story was on its way to a quiet death before Rexrode decided to prop it back up, for what reason I can only imagine. The statement runs the risk of making Goodlatte look like a bully, one, and two the campaign is coming across as wanting to avoid a discussion of the issues of the day with Rasoul and Allen, in the process ceding the higher ground that Goodlatte should be able to defend easily by virtue of his many years of service in Congress translating to experience.

It’s not my business to tell Dave Rexrode how to do his job, but since I’m here, I might as well say that it would be my advice in the future to maybe think a little harder about what it means to leave well enough alone.

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