DNC Drops WMUR As Debate Co-Sponsor

By Chris Ariens 

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The Democratic National Committee has dropped Hearst-owned WMUR as a co-sponsor of the third democratic debate taking place one week from tomorrow night in Manchester, NH. At issue: a labor dispute between a local union and station management.

“Regrettably, as a result of WMUR’s unwillingness to move forward on scheduling negotiations between the Hearst Corporation and Production Department employees represented by IBEW Local 1228 prior to the debate, we will no longer include WMUR as a co-sponsor of the debate,” said DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley in a joint statement.

WMUR, an ABC affiliate, will still carry the debate, as ABC is the national broadcast partner. WMUR anchor Josh McElveen had been set to co-moderate with “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir and ABC’s chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz. McElveen has been pulled from the debate.

WMUR is the only English-language, network affiliate in the state and therefore has an outsized election year sway due the state’s first-in-the-nation primary status.

As we reported yesterday, candidate Martin O’Malley called on his fellow democrats to cease advertising on WMUR and other Hearst stations. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders also sent letters to WMUR urging management to negotiate with the union before the debate.

“Needless to say, we’re disappointed that the efforts of the 140 WMUR employees in helping organize this debate will now be undone,” said WMUR president and gm Jeff Bartlett. “Nevertheless, we’ll continue to cover the debate, and the candidates and campaigns. As for the negotiations with this particular union, we will continue with the policy we’ve followed with the many prior union negotiations we’ve successfully concluded – to negotiate in good faith, and directly and not through third parties. To that end, we have a mutually agreed-upon date for another meeting, which has been scheduled and confirmed for some two weeks now.”