Maryland candidate protests MPT online interview vs. broadcast

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When Maryland Public Television invited candidates to do interviews for its website, one literally replied, “Go to hell” — because he feels that public broadcasting is on television, not on the Web.

Larry Unger, MPT’s chief operating officer, said the station has done televised debates for some statewide offices in the past. This year, it is conducting short interviews with statewide and Congressional candidates to be posted on its website. “People don’t want to sit through a program and watch interviews with all of the candidates,” Unger said. “That would take a really long time. This way, they can do what they want, and all of the interviews will be available to them.”

Invitations to participate went out to 48 candidates last week; seven or eight candidates have already made appointments for their interviews, Unger said. But Blaine Taylor, a Democrat challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski in the primary, wrote his scathing response to the invitation e-mail from MPT.

“I think it’s foolish, outrageous and insulting,” Taylor said in an interview with MPT receives state taxpayer funding, so it should be doing a public service by broadcasting the interviews on television, Taylor said. He insisted he wasn’t concerned about the audience numbers, but rather the principle. “The two key words are ‘public broadcasting,'” he said. “You paid for it, I paid for it, all taxpayers paid for it. It’s what they should be doing.”