What do 3rd Congressional candidates think about a free press?

3rd Congressional District candidates, from left, David McDevitt, Michael Cortney, Carolyn Long, Earl Bowerman and Dorothy Gasque participated in the League of Women Voters’ first congressional forum July 12.

3rd Congressional District candidates, from left, David McDevitt, Michael Cortney, Carolyn Long, Earl Bowerman and Dorothy Gasque participated in the League of Women Voters’ first congressional forum July 12.


At last week’s League of Women Voters forum, candidates were asked their views on a free press and how to protect it. As a member of said press, I was especially interested to hear what the candidates had to say.

To remind those who were not in attendance, two candidates were absent from the forum: Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, and Democrat Martin Hash. So we’ll have to wait and see if they offer any input during this campaign cycle on the issue.

In the meantime, here’s what candidates said.

Earl Bowerman, Republican: “I think that one of the things we need to be careful about is censoring people for what they say. I think that people should be able to say anything they believe and anything they want in the press … and then the rest of us are free to form an opinion. It’s very important for the electorate to be well informed about what is going on.

We need to have access to any information the government has that is not classified. I’m for total transparency. I think the government should never try to censor information that’s available through the press.”

Dorothy Gasque, Democrat: “I’m going to take an eagle on this, I’m not sure others would but, we have a big problem in this country that a large portion of our media is owned by a small number of corporations and that is distorting the news narrative and it is hurting independent newspapers across the country.

So one of the biggest things we need to do is start talking about enforcing antitrust laws and breaking up these giant telecommunication conglomerates that are being bought up by corporations and controlling the narrative. I saw first had at the Democratic National Convention how corporations and the media worked together  to paint a false narrative and that’s something we really need to take on if we want to have a truly free press.”

David McDevitt, Democrat: “We did away with the laws that allowed equal access when it comes to being able to talk about ideological differences. As a consequence we ended up with what? MSNBC and Fox television and a few other outlets that are publicizing ideological perspectives without necessarily giving time to the other side.

One of the things we need to do is restore that. I think we need to eliminate the ability for corporations to consolidate their interests into one perspective so that we have more time to evaluate and have that freedom of speech that’s necessary for us to be exposed to all ideas.”

Michael Cortney, Republican: “I agree. There used to be a time when we demanded fairness in politics. If someone gave an opinion there was someone there to give a different opinion. The biggest thing we’ve lost is truth. Our politics has become so divided that’s its almost accepted anymore that that people can just lie as long as it suits their need. You see it on Fox News, you see it sometimes on MSNBC. You know honesty just doesn’t seem to have value anymore. We need to start holding our media accountable especially these news stations. We just seem to accept everything if it fits our politics.”

Carolyn Long, Democrat: “(The Fourth Estate) is being torn apart by President Trump who has said it’s enemy number one rather than, I don’t know Russia? It’s not just the attacks on the press but it’s attacks on congress on local and national officials and state administrations. We have to stop that from happening. The first thing we have to do is criticize the president for what he’s doing consistently to try to undermine this important check on our democracy.

I agree with the others that censorship is wrong but that’s exactly what the president does when he doesn’t allow the press into some of his actions.

He’s willing to meet with (Vladimir) Putin but no one’s going to be present except for translators. He met with the leader of North Korea and we don’t know what happened. He apparently solved all of the problems.

So we have to make sure press is always present when government is doing its business. We also have to encourage investigative journalism. One of the silver linings in this administration is so many journalist are digging for the truth and they’re going to find it.”

Katy Sword

Katy Sword

I cover the city of Vancouver and federal politics. Reach me at katy.sword@columbian.com.

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