WNPT currently finds itself in a bind, thanks to one Eric Crafton. Back in December, Program Manager Justin Harvey invited Crafton by e-mail to an English Only debate in January.
Harvey's logic was sound: On the eve of Nashville's controversial election, what better way to serve the community than by bringing in proponents of both sides for a one-hour sit-down? With John Seigenthaler set to moderate and David Briley in the chair opposite, the debate had all the makings of our very own low-budget Frost/Nixon. Except that now, after an e-mail sent to Harvey on Saturday, word is Crafton has cold feet.
Crafton says that he's leaning towards pulling out because "(Nashville First) says there's not going to be enough time" and "we're not sure it's really going to help us anyway." Harvey, for his part, is naturally a little confused: "My argument was, you're going to reach tens of thousands of households the Friday before the vote. That would seem to make sense to me."
For our part, we're going to have to push all our chips over to Harvey. Does Crafton really think he can find a more effective way to reach Nashvillians for one hour on Friday night? Of course not. It's not as if he'll be canvassing, as members of Nashville for All of Us have been doing. And when asked for what, specifically, he'll be doing instead of the debate, all Crafton could offer was a vague platitude: "We'll be implementing our plan."
Whatever that "plan" is remains a mystery. But in the meantime, he's left a handful of public access employees in the lurch. In order to ensure people actually tune in, WNPT has to send out press releases and on-air ads, starting today. Harvey says that even if Crafton doesn't show, or send a substitute in his stead, they'll still go ahead with the "debate", albeit with one empty chair.
Perhaps the most telling thing Crafton said in the short conversation we had about his debate hang-ups came at the end. Naturally, it had nothing to do with actual substance and instead came off like so much adolescent whining.
"If Karl Dean doesn't have enough time to come," he said. "I don't see why I should."