The recent WPSU-produced “town hall” with Rep. Glenn Thompson was a public embarrassment.
WPSU should never have agreed to the event’s format:
▪ mandatory preregistration for attendees
▪ live audience limited to 100
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▪ overly strong police and security presence
▪ condescending warnings that “disruptive conduct” would result in forcible removal
▪ only 55 minutes of televised Q&A
▪ little opportunity for real give-and-take
▪ an unannounced restriction against individual filming of the event.
These restrictions meant this “town hall” was little more than a televised Thompson interview, with audience as props. Interviews are important, but they are not public town halls.
I support WPSU but believe our public station was manipulated in presenting this sham “town hall” under these rules.
For his part, Glenn “I’m a health care expert” Thompson got exactly what he wanted: a no-risk charade, because the event’s format prevented any real opportunity for follow-up or challenges. (Those attending will confirm the tone changed once WPSU stopped recording.)
In fact, our “It might be sunspots” congressman demonstrated again his total lack of understanding why anyone just might be upset with his views and votes on such issues as health care and climate change.
Any elected official can do a real town hall, in a large auditorium with real and open discussion anytime he or she has the courage to do so. Understanding this, it is transparently obvious why Thompson suddenly reversed course and agreed to do this WPSU-staged contrived “town hall” in this format and with these rules.
We deserve better.
Bob Potter, Boalsburg