Walter Pierce

Local Dems take umbrage at KLFY forum

by Walter Pierce

The Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee is calling on the KLFY to provide equal time this afternoon following an hour-long health care forum — a forum the DEC characterizes “more as advertisement ... than serving any public interest.” The forum, conducted by Shreveport TV station KTBS, features as panelists three Republican congressmen from Louisiana — John Fleming of Minden, Bill Cassidy from Livingston, and Charles Boustany of Lafayette — all of them physicians and all opposed to the Obama administration’s plans for health care reform.

In a letter to KLFY General Manager Mike Barras and News Direct Dwight Dugas, committee members demand that the CBS affiliate “provide supporters of healthcare reform one hour of your station’s time to respond and that you promote that response on a level equivalent to the promotion you are giving this event.” The letter indicates that Dugas offered local Dems a 90-second rebuttal following the forum.

KLFY's Barras defends the broadcast, telling the INDsider the forum "was news-worthy of a broadcast," in part because it features "three sitting congressmen from Louisiana." Barras adds that the station is still trying to get a member of the DEC to appear on its 5 p.m. newscast to offer its side of the debate. Members of the local Democratic party did not respond to a message left at the Lafayette office seeking comment on whether they plan to take KLFY up on its offer.

Clips from the forum, which were broadcast from Shreveport’s Strand Theater, can be viewed at KTBS’s Web site. The DEC adds in its letter to KLFY: “As you well know, the public interest can only be served when those on both sides of a policy issue of great significance can be heard. Giving one hour of your station’s time to a one-sided “forum” on healthcare reform fails to meet any reasonable standard for objectivity and fairness.”

The letter dated Sept. 2 is signed by DEC Chairman John D. Bernhardt, Vice Chair Susannah Malbreaux, and members Lester Gauthier, Stephen Handwerk, Gregory Dean, Ann Ardoin, Wilfred Pierre, Gobb Williams, Mike Stagg and Frank Flynn.

The forum airs at 4 p.m. today on TV10.