I know everyone in the newsroom is busy 48 hours before a national election, but would it have been so hard to walk the 10 blocks up to U Street NW from The Post building to cover the third-party presidential debate hosted at Busboys and Poets by Ralph Nader on Sunday night?
I confess that I normally follow these things, and I, too, missed it. But Ralph Nader called me on Monday to complain, and I think he was right to do so.
For two hours — I watched a recording of most of the debate — Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, Libertarian Gary Johnson (former New Mexico governor), the Justice Party’s Rocky Anderson (former mayor of Salt Lake City) and Virgil Goode, the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned Constitution Party candidate and former congressman from Virginia, debated at the coffee house in Washington’s U Street Corridor.
Questions were generally more wide ranging and provocative, the format more interesting, and the responses more varied, than what we saw from Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the two-party debates this fall.
Yes, I know these candidates are not going to win. But so what? These men and Ms. Stein are running national campaigns, they’re on the ballots in the majority of states, and they deserve to be covered.
Kevin Merida, The Post’s national editor, said it was just a case of dropping the ball, that The Post had intended to cover the debate.
“This one just fell through the cracks,” Merida wrote to me in an e-mail. “We had discussed covering it, and it was certainly on our radar, but in the craziness of the final campaign stretch, we didn’t manage to get a reporter there. I take responsibility for that. We do think the debate was worth covering.”
Merida noted that The Post sent The Fix’s Sean Sullivan to Chicago to cover the previous third-party debate on Oct. 23, providing both live coverage in the Election2012 blog and a story for the print edition.
That was good. But in the final hours of the election campaign, and with the event taking place just blocks from The Post, the debate should have been covered, online and in print.