With a picture of Harry Reasoner and Barbara Walters as a backdrop, Virginia Republican lieutenant gubernatorial candidate A. Joe Canada yesterday picketed the ABC television network offices here for refusing to give him equal time in response to an Aug. 1 interview of his opponent, Charles S. (Chuck) Robb.
"I think it is a tradegy that in the United States of America in 1977 that one man is given access to tens of thousands of Virginia homes through use of the publicly owned airwaves solely because he has married the daughter of a former President," Canada said as he stood outside the ABC news offices at 1124 Connecticut Ave. NW.
Robb, who has been married for nearly 10 years to the late President Lyndon B. Johnson's older daughter Lynda Bird, appeared on a telecast of Good Morning America, a news and entertainment program.
ABC officials yesterday gave varying reasons why Canada's request to appear on the program was denied.
"If he had demanded equal time within seven days (of the Aug. 1 telecast), we would have given him equal time," said Tom Mackin, director of program information for ABC. He said a political candidate has seven days after the telecast to demand equal time.
However, Penny Price, associate producer in charge of talent for Good Morning America, said the equal time laws didn't apply to the seven-minute interview of the Robbs. "The interview wasn't about issues (in the campaign. It was about Lynda . . . raising the family, combining careers, and being on the campaign trail again."
Canada said ABC was contacted in an Aug. 10 letter about his request to appear on the program. He said Thomas Davis, an attorney for his campaign, talked to ABC on Oct. 12.
When asked why he had waited so long to ask to be on Good Morning America, Canada said, "I guess our lawyer is a little slow." Davis said he volunterred his legal services to Canada after Aug. 15.
Canada said "Our case is on the principle of fundamental fairness, not on the equal-time basis. This incident with ABC is just one more example of how my opponent's campaign has been supported by his ties with the Johnson family, rather than by his taking specific stands on the issues affecting Virginia."
In a Richmond news conference, Robb said Canada's attacks on his marital ties to the Johnson family are "inappropriate. These carping, bickering, negative attacks undermine our political system."