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October 6, 2018 - 7:11pm

Until Chris Collins agrees to an interview, The Batavian will not publish his campaign press releases

posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

The Batavian has always had a policy of publishing most press releases from elected officials who directly represent us, Assembly, State Senate, U.S. Congress.

During the campaign cycle, we’ve published most verbatim press releases from the candidates for those offices.

It’s also been our practice in the past to interview the candidates in tightly contested races for our congressional seat.

This year, so far, we’ve interviewed Nate McMurray (to be published at a later date) and will interview Larry Piegza.

So far, Rep. Chris Collins has brushed off requests for an interview, never saying no but refusing to commit to a date for an interview.

An interview is a chance to clarify a candidate’s positions on specific policy questions, to probe their errors in logic or counter-factual claims, as well as pin them down on campaign promises. Interviews with the press by politicians and candidates is an important part of our democratic process. It’s how we hold to account and ensure transparency from those who might represent us.

A good example of how this can play out comes from the 2012 contest when the Kathy Hochul campaign used, in our opinion, a Chris Collins quote out of context. We were able to publish the full context of the quote to correct the record.

For The Batavian, in a contested race, interviews, either a sitdown formal interview or along the campaign trail, are also a way to balance out the unfiltered claims politicians make in their press releases.

For that reason, we don’t think it is fair or right to continue publishing press releases from the campaign of Chris Collins without a firm commitment to a sit-down interview.

Chris Collins has told The Batavian many times that he appreciates the fair, factual and challenging questions we have peppered him with in past interviews. He said he considers our coverage of him fair and accurate. He has said he enjoys the challenge of tough questions.

But since his arrest on insider trading charges, he has tended to try and avoid the press, giving only one interview since to a Buffalo TV station, and confining his public appearance to friendly audiences with no prior notice to news outlets.

In my opinion, a person running for Congress should not be able to cloister himself in his office and avoid the accountability of public appearances and interviews.

We will continue to publish as appropriate press releases from the congressional office of Chris Collins but we will not publish campaign press releases until we have a time-certain appointment for an interview with no limitations on questions (and, of course, Collins must keep his appointment with us).

Of course, in the meantime, we will continue to publish campaign press releases from Nate McMurray and Larry Piegza since they're playing by the rules.

C. M. Barons
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Thumbs up, Howard!

Ellen Smith
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Thank-you for keeping this election honest.

bud prevost
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Good for you Howard. Maybe now some of you Collins supporters will realize he doesn't give a damn about you. His lack of any town halls, infrequent visits, and general aloofness were reason enough to dislike him. Allegations of insider trading just show his character, or lack thereof. He was willing to allow many people to lose a lot of money, just so he and his inner circle could benefit. (allegedly). FixitLarry may not have the millionaire pedigree, but he's a better choice.

Brian Heick
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I like this. I'd still like a town hall so I can go heckle him though.

Mike Barringer
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I agree with your decision Howard, he comes across as an aloof millionaire politician who cares less about his constituents than lining his and his cronies pockets.

mike nixon
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Then don't publish anyone's.

Just because you don't like his platform or the way he is running his campaign, you are going to take your ball and go home.

SMH............

Tim Miller
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Mike - did you not read the entire article? Not once did Howard reference Collins' politics, or whether he agreed/disagreed with Collins' or any other candidate's stance. Howard did reference Collins' arrest to note when Collins and his team stopped responding to The Batavian, but nothing about the politics involved.

Howard has made it very clear he will publish releases coming out of Collins' office related to current congressional work, and that he will publish Collins' candidate related releases once Collins stops acting like he has something to hide. If Collins wants his PR stuff published, he has to act like the rest of the candidates.

After all, this IS Howard and Billie's ball, and for those that misbehave they CAN take the ball and go home. Once Collins grows up, he can start playing again.

Daniel Jones
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Mike - Sounds like you've got as much integrity as your cousin Richard.

Jason Crater
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Howard - I heard your interview on NPR this morning. Nice work. You were well spoken and composed. You represent our region well.

mike nixon
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Tim- I did read it, you should go back and read it. I made my comment for the exact reason you stated. The decision to not post directly from Collins' campaign smacks of partisanship.

Daniel- Bless your trolling heart.

Tim Miller
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Jason - can you let us know more about how to find and listen to the NPR interview? Thanks!

Jason Crater
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Uh...WBFO in Buffalo. I actually heard Howard's interview twice this morning. 88.7 FM

Howard B. Owens
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Here's a link to the interview with Jay Moran of WBFO.

http://news.wbfo.org/post/collins-silence-creating-discord-27th-district

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