Newspaper Tosses Tea Party Candidate From Panel Discussion

Friday, 02 May 2014 05:47 PM

By Cathy Burke

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A tea party-backed Republican primary candidate for Senate in Oregon pounced on a reporter for scribbling "blah, blah, blah" in his notebook during a videotaped panel discussion — and was booted after slamming the sponsoring newspaper's editorial staff as "disrespectful, thin-skinned liberals."

A little over an hour into the talk among five GOP contenders seeking an endorsement from the Portland alternative paper Willamette Week, Mark Callahan exploded at Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Nigel Jaquiss for his notes during a long answer given by Jo-Rae Perkins, who was participating via conference call.

The dust-up was first reported by JimRomenesko.com.

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

"You want to talk about disrespect, I see what you’re writing down there," Callahan fumed. "You just wrote down 'blah, blah, blah, blah, blah' for everything that Jo-Rae said.

"Why are you not respecting her by writing 'blah, blah, blah, blah' on your notepad?"

Story continues below video.

US Senate from wweek.vimeo on Vimeo.



The moderator jumped in to get the panel discussion back on track, asking Callahan about his view on climate change.

"It’s a myth," he replied.

"Where are you on the Easter bunny?" Jaquiss then asked.

A stunned Callahan shot back: "Are these really the questions that I was called here to answer? ... I called you out for putting 'blah blah blah' on your notepad and now you’re asking me questions like this? Really? Really, are we talking about this now? How about you ask … serious and respectful questions instead of little childish questions."

"Can I now move on and get the response from somebody else? And if you’re not going to let me, I’m going to ask you to leave," the moderator warned.

"Who do you think you are?" Callahan challenged.

"You’re done here," editor-in-chief Mark Zusman told Callahan. "This is neither a fair nor balanced meeting."

"I know it's a meeting being held by disrespectful thin-skinned liberals like yourself," Callahan charged, getting up to leave and muttering: "I’ve got better things to do with my time."

Jaquiss was unapologetic.

"When Ms. Perkins then insisted on answering a question about the Affordable Care Act, I found her answer nonresponsive — she veered off into advocating for the dissolution of the Bureaus of Land Management and the Interior and the Forest Service — and repetitive, and I did write 'blah, blah, blah,'" he told the New York Daily News.

"Our endorsement process is for the benefit of our readers and web audience, rather than the candidates, and we make no promise of equal time. He did not like that answer."

But Callahan defended his reaction as "the honorable and right thing to do," he told the News.

"I developed my moral and ethical foundation from my involvement in Boy Scouts when I was younger, and being an Eagle Scout myself," he said.

The newspaper wound up endorsing state Rep. Jason Conger.

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

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