Home 2022 Elections Rep. Abigail Spanberger Explains, in Detail, How Her Team “worked to lock...

Rep. Abigail Spanberger Explains, in Detail, How Her Team “worked to lock down a nonpartisan debate,” but Yesli Vega “refused to cooperate”

Vega even demanded "far-right radio personality Larry O’Connor — who had hosted...Vega on his show" as co-moderator.


See here and below for Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA07)’s response to right-wing Republican nominee Yesli Vega “go[ing] to great lengths to avoid the Virginians she claims to want to serve.” According to Rep. Spanberger, in fact:

“For 4 months, our team worked to lock down a nonpartisan debate. The Vega campaign has refused to cooperate. And Vega is lying about what happened. So here’s what happened.

The University of Mary Washington — previously in VA01 — has hosted congressional debates each election year — and VA01 Republican Rep. Rob Wittman always participated. The University — now in VA07 — invited our campaigns to debate. We both accepted, but candidate Vega backed out of this traditionally-held Fredericksburg debate.

We then accepted invitations from multiple other civic organizations — including local NAACP chapters — wanting to host forums. Vega declined them all.

On July 25, Prince William Committee of 100 proposed a forum moderated by UMW Professor Stephen Farnsworth. We accepted, as did Vega. While she declined each date they proposed, we agreed to debate on any date her team offered…

Though we both agreed to a debate moderated by Dr. Farnsworth, candidate Vega tried to make changes, wanting Sinclair Broadcasting’s @7NewsDC  to take over — including choosing the moderator, selecting the questions, and hosting in their studio.

The Committee did not want to move the event to the studio, but worried Vega might withdraw if the station wasn’t involved. Ultimately, the Committee decided that given their community focus, they did not want to cede control — including choice of moderator…

…On October 12, the Committee abruptly told our campaign that far-right radio personality Larry O’Connor — who had hosted candidate Vega on his show that same morning — would now co-moderate the proposed debate with a PBS NewsHour reporter.

We made clear that a far-right radio personality, who has called Democrats “monsters,” implored his column readers to “make [Democrats] pay,” and asked his listeners to donate to Yesli Vega was not an appropriate choice for an ostensibly nonpartisan debate meant to inform voters…

…Though the Committee said they would discuss our concerns related to O’Connor’s vitriolic language and get back to us, Vega herself announced on Friday that O’Connor’s participation had been finalized, even though the Committee was still reviewing it.

We asked for details regarding planning, and by October 16 (five days before the proposed event), the only elements of a potential debate that had been confirmed to our team were a proposed date and location. No moderator, no ticketing plans, and no security plans — nothing.

Today, the Committee of 100 conceded that their hands were tied and that they failed to confirm a nonpartisan moderator and respond to our concerns about security protocols…

According to the @PWCTimes, the President of the Committee of 100 — a Republican who our team worked with in good faith for more than three months — even admitted that Larry O’Connor should not have been considered…

…It’s sad she played these games just because she is scared of answering tough questions before Virginians. This is a sad reality for the VA07 voters.

P.S. For more information on Sinclair “News,” see here. A couple “highlights” include: 1) “A 2019 study in the American Political Science Review found that ‘stations bought by Sinclair reduce coverage of local politics, increase national coverage and move the ideological tone of coverage in a conservative direction relative to other stations operating in the same market.'”; 2) “The company has been criticized by journalists and media analysts for requiring its stations to broadcast packaged video segments and its news anchors to read prepared scripts that contain pro-Trump editorial content, including warnings about purported ‘fake news‘ in mainstream media, while Trump has tweeted support for watching Sinclair over CNN and NBC.” Also note that some of their reporters are former Trump administration officials and/or Republican operatives. So…either Democrats should completely avoid this station, or at the minimum should be VERY cautious/on guard with the station or its reporters.



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