To the Editor:
Scott Bassett’s criticism of the Sun Sailor’s coverage of the “With or Without You” Town Hall Meeting that my wife and I organized is based on false assumptions and misleading comparisons.
“If I get 600 of my like-minded peers together…” The meeting was open to all and publicized both in a public Facebook page and in this newspaper—twice. Those who attended were Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. The only thing “like-minded” about them was that they wanted a discussion with Rep. Paulsen, who represents them in Congress.
In regards to the statement: “…(W)e invite someone into this calculatedly hostile environment…,” I published the ground rules for the meeting on the Facebook page, detailing how one of its goals was to have civil discourse, and I repeated that goal when I started the meeting. And that’s exactly what it was. There was no hostility or disruptive behavior.
There were 650 people inside the church, another 600 to 1,000 people either standing outside or sitting in their cars watching the live stream of the meeting, and about 200 more in cars that were backed up from the church parking lot to Highway 169 to the east and Interstate 494 to the west, meaning that about 2,000 attended or intended to attend the meeting. In addition, 19,000 people watched the live stream of the event, and another 28,000 have watched the video since then. I think a meeting that drew the attention of almost 50,000 people is actually a pretty big story.
Finally, the comparison to Obama and Franken not meeting with “conservative media” is a false equivalency. It wasn’t the media who wanted to meet with Rep. Paulsen, it was constituents whom he was elected to represent.