Whitfield's KET Absence Causes Controversy

Lexington, KY – U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield's absence at Kentucky Educational Television live forum last Monday night against Democratic challenger Heather Ryan is sparking a bit of controversy. After declining to attend due to scheduling conflicts, the congressman requested KET run an unedited statement after the segment. Whitfield cited the Federal Communications Commission's equal-opportunities requirement, which necessitates networks give equal coverage to both parties. KET aired the unedited videotaped statement after Ryan fielded questions from journalists for a half-hour segment. Whitfield's campaign spokeswoman Kristin Walker says this is not the first time the congressman has aired video statements on the network when he's been unable to attend debates. According to KET, Whitfield was allowed a video statement in 2000 after the forums were cancelled because congress remained in session well past its scheduled adjournment. Walker says he didn't attend this year after previously committing to political rallies in Lyon and Hopkins counties. Ryan says her opponent single-handedly changed thirty years of precedent by forcing KET to air a free commercial for his campaign.