Wyoming Public Television will soon air a debate between the Republican candidates for the U.S. House Of Representatives. Probably the most heated race of this season.

Yet some are upset that the debate will be so heavily controlled.

Wyoming PBS will host the debate at Sheridan College. There will be three panelists selected to question the candidates. At first, no other media was to be allowed into the building, which has since been changed as far as allowing the media in. But the public will still not be allowed to attend.

Liz Cheney and her campaign had nothing to do with this decision. It was Wyoming PBS that decided to close the doors to the public.

A listener of mine from Gillette sent me the response the received when she complained to the WyoPBS General Manager about the closed meeting.

attachment-PBS Response 1

What I have heard from my radio listeners, regarding the PBS response, is that it is very telling if they think that they cannot safely hold a debate.

How can a candidate represent the public if they have to be shielded from the public in this manner?

Then there is the line about vocal supporters disrupting the event. I think Mr. Dugas meant to say "detractors", rather than "supporters."

But again, how can a person represent the Wyoming public if the public is so upset with them that the candidate can't even speak?

This is a disservice to anyone running for office. Shielding a candidate from the public because they might get booed makes the candidate look worse than allowing the booing.

The discussion continued between Mrs. Mansell and Mr. Dugas continues with a bit more information as to what kind of threats one of the candidates might have received.

attachment-PBS Response 22

Anyone who runs for any office should know that there are overly passionate people out there as well as some who suffer from mental disorders. This is the price one pays and the risk one takes.

Yet still, across Wyoming, candidates and elected officials meet the public in the open all the time. Some towns even invite the public to meet and speak with candidates at downtown ice cream socials. So why can't PBS have an audience?

That last question becomes even more of a headscratcher when we see the final note Mr. Dugas sent.

attachment-PBS Response 3

All other PBS debates will be open to the press and public?

I'm sure Governor Gordon has received threats. 2020 was a hot hear that brought protesters right out in front of his office in the capital. So why not close down the governor's debate?

To his credit, Governor Gordon walked out to meet the protestors in front of the capital and had a conversation with them. You can watch that exchange in the video, below.

This is how we do it in Wyoming.

Personal note to Mr. Douglas General Manager of Wyoming PBS.

I understand your concerns. But in this case I think you make a mistake. If safety is something you are worried about then call for more security. What you've actually done here is made one of the candidates look bad. If there are boos and catcalls from the audience, let them happen. It's ugly, but it's genuinely how people feel. Let the chips fall where they may and let the public decide at the ballot box.


Glenn Woods

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