Hanna Threatens to Pull Ads if WUTR Covers Empty Chair Debate
October 5th 2012 · 2 Comments
Congressman Caught Coercing News Station with Advertising Dollars
Binghamton, NY – The Dan Lamb for Congress Campaign in New York’s 22nd Congressional District today revealed that Congressman Richard Hanna threatened to pull his advertising from WUTR-TV, an ABC affiliate in Utica, New York, if the station did not comply with his demand to cancel coverage of an upcoming debate at WSYR-TV in Syracuse. The Utica Nexstar Affiliate had agreed in writing to cover the Syracuse debate, which was to feature only Dan Lamb. Richard Hanna refused multiple attempts over a period of six weeks to provide a time during which he would be willing to debate.
WUTR’s Vice President and General Manager Stephen P. Merren disclosed in an email to the Lamb campaign that he received an “angry” call from Hanna, during which the Congressman threatened to pull his advertising if the station’s plan to cover the event moved forward. “He indicated to me that we would not be considered for his ad dollars and our level of cooperation in the future could be affected,” Merren wrote. Merren went on to indicate that the station had decided to pull out of the debate after consulting with Tim Busch, the Chief Operating Officer of WUTR’s parent company Nexstar Broadcasting Group. Nexstar (NASDAQ: NXST) is based in Irving, Texas and consists of 55 broadcast televisions stations throughout the United States.
“Congressman Richard Hanna should be ashamed of himself for using his money to influence the journalistic decisions of a local news station,” Lamb said. “If this isn’t a violation of FCC rules it should be. What Hanna did is the moral equivalent of bribing a cop. If the news media can be bought off, our entire democracy is at risk. All I have sought to do is provide the public with an opportunity to hear both sides of the debate so that they could base their vote on something other than a 30 second advertisement. Congressman Hanna has repeatedly tried to cover up his record of voting to privatize Medicare and cut college aid for middle class families while voting for a huge new tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. I’ve always believed that you can buy all the ads in the world, but you can’t buy the truth. Now Mr. Hanna is trying to buy that too.”