shut out

Did Illinois’ U.S. Senate Hopeful Jacob Meister Miss His Chance to Debate Because He’s Gay?

You’ve got to question anyone who wants Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat that’s been stained by Rod Blagojevich (and, some would argue, Roland Burris). But as Democrats line up to make a go at joining Scott Brown in Washington, one candidate is feeling a little more than slighted: Jacob Meister was denied a spot in last night’s televised Democratic debate. Because he’s gay?

Meister, who’s trailing other Dems with a recent poll showing support of just five percent, is taking the matter up with the FCC. It all started when Meister and WTTW Channel 11 station producer Jay Smith went back and forth over whether he’d be included. In the end, he was snubbed, but because the event was, according to WTTW, a “forum” and not a “debate,” the station is in the clear of FCC law, which requires “equal access” for political candidates. (Alexi Giannoulias, the frontrunner, debated forum-ed Cheryle Jackson and David Hoffman.)

Which has Meister claiming discrimination.

“The only fact, which appears to distinguish Mr. Meister from any of the other Democratic Party candidates, is that Mr. Meister is gay,” said Meister attorney David Axelrod, who shares no relation to the White House staff member of the same name.

Meister said “WTTW’s decision to exclude me isn’t based on any reasonable or accurate standard, whether in a court of law or the court of public opinion. My inclusion is about access. It is about fairness and the right of every Illinois voter to be given the opportunity to choose the candidate who he or she believes is best suited to hold the office of United States senator.”

“WTTW is not a commercial broadcast station. It is a public entity funded by the state of Illinois and the federal government,” Axelrod said. “As a public agent, WTTW has a legal and moral responsibility to provide the citizenry with an unbiased point of view. The only reason we can see for Mr. Meister’s exclusion is his sexual orientation.”