Six people who were arrested after protests broke out Wednesday night over the inclusion of David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, in a televised U.S. Senate debate at historically black Dillard University had their charges dropped Friday morning.Another thing I'd like to clear up about this whole incident. I'm seeing a lot of people comment about Raycom's decision to close the debate off from press and public. People seem to be under the impression that this had something to do with Duke. It didn't.
The decision to hold a closed debate was made in September, when Raycom first approached Dillard about renting Georges Auditorium for the debate. At that time, the candidates who would be invited to participate were yet to be determined.This still isn't a defense of the policy. I can't figure out why anyone would want to stage a forum like that. But it's worth remembering there was a similar situation at Ruston during the Governor's election last year.
The televised gubernatorial debate being hosted by Louisiana Tech University and KTBS-TV in Ruston on Oct. 15 will have some unusual features that will keep media and the public out of the same room of candidates.Re-reading that story, I wonder if anyone ever found out who was responsible for setting the policy at the time. No one questioned for the article wanted to own up to it.
The restrictions include shooting the debate without an audience present, even though the debate is being held inside the Davison Athletics Complex, a facility that's designed to handle large crowds. And despite the debate being held in what's described as a "banquet-type room," most of the media covering the debate will be sequestered in a second-floor room where candidates can choose to appear after the debate for interviews and reaction.
All four campaigns said they did not request barring a live audience or having media present in the room before, after or during the debate. Neither did KTBS, whose news director Randy Bain said would have proceeded with the debate with or without an audience or the media present.Who was "they"?
Asked whether Louisiana Tech officials negotiated with campaigns to prohibit an audience, Bain said, "I cannot answer that question because I was not part of that discussion." Louisiana Tech officials did not return two messages left seeking comment on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
"When we went out there they let us know they weren't going to have an audience and we were fine with that," Bain said. Asked about why the media isn't allowed in the debate area, Bain said, "once again, that was Louisiana Tech. They wanted a controlled atmosphere in that studio area."