By Wayne Hoffman


Republican lieutenant governor candidate Priscilla Giddings is 100% correct to not subject herself to a debate run by Idaho’s leftist news media.


Her position is defensibly different from candidates who outright refuse to debate. It’s all about the venue and media bias.


I’ve never understood why the legacy media are given such an outsized role in deciding the winner of Idaho’s primary elections. Questions asked during primary debates seldom align with conservative values like limited government and individual liberty, and it’s part of the reason we’ve been saddled with leftist Republicans in key offices for many decades. The problem has only gotten worse in recent years.



When I was still a reporter more than 20 years ago and invited to participate in the debates as a panelist, I questioned some of the questions that the government-owned broadcaster, Idaho Public Television, developed for primary election candidates. It seemed odd to me even then that candidates were not being asked their positions on basic issues that would be of concern to anyone seeking a GOP nomination.


I later worked for U.S. Rep. Bill Sali in 2008 and almost had him sit out the debate over concerns about the League of Women Voters’ involvement, noting that the organization openly backed socialized medicine. Today, the League is still a participant, and the coalition of leftists involved in the planning and execution of the debate now includes the philosophically partisan public policy centers at Boise State University and the University of Idaho. Claiming these debates are nonpartisan affairs is absolute bunk. It’s a very socialist-centered affair.


It’s not just Idaho Public Television at issue. Lately, the legacy media have abandoned any pretense of fairness or objectivity. Boise TV station KTVB has basically dedicated its news coverage to mocking or attacking conservative candidates, officeholders, their allies, and their political views. As with public television, KTVB’s debates are also not a credible resource to learn about the races or candidates on the ballot.


It’s likely that either the government television debates or the KTVB debates would feature panelists from the Idaho Capital Sun and Idaho Education News, who are openly hostile to conservatives. The social justice crusaders at the Idaho Capital Sun wrongly claim that the TV venues are merely an effort to help voters discern between competing conservative factions of the Republican Party. That’s patently untrue.


Refusing to participate in the Left’s circus acts has been billed by the media as an attack on the political process, and that is not true. Giddings wants a debate — she just wants a fair one in a fair venue. This is different from the positions of Gov. Brad Little, who laughingly said his record is not subject to debate, and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, who decided against any debate because his opponent Bryan Smith has already gotten enough attention.


Little and Simpson have taken indefensible positions of not sitting for voter scrutiny, while Giddings, on the other hand, is merely concerned with the bias of the legacy venues.


Giddings has said she wants to debate. She merely called the press out on their game. It’s been a long time coming. I wish more candidates would do the same.


Wayne Hoffman is president of Idaho Freedom Foundation.