UPDATE: The Augusta Chronicle’s president, Dana Atkins, announced Wednesday evening that the debate between John Barrow and Rick Allen is still scheduled, but the venue has changed because one of the candidates had “apprehension” over holding the forum at the Islamic Community Center of Augusta. The new location is the Evans Government Complex and Steve Crawford is back on as moderator. Hmmm…
Apparently, Republican Congressional candidate Rick Allen wasn’t the only one to back out of this Saturday’s 12th District Congressional Forum at the Islamic Community Center of Augusta.
Insiders say that Columbia County News-Times publisher Steve Crawford received word that William S. Morris III, CEO of Morris Communications and publisher of The Augusta Chronicle, did not want him involved in the event.
Crawford, who had already agreed to be the moderator of the forum, was working with Hossam Fadel of the Islamic Society of Augusta to formulate the questions and send them to incumbent Congressman John Barrow and Allen prior to the debate.
That was one of the many stipulations that Allen requested in order for him to participate in the forum.
So, why did Morris allegedly demand Crawford pull out of the event?
Sadly, insiders say it is because the forum was hosted by the Islamic Society of Augusta.
Come on, Billy Morris.
This is a man who owns a dozen daily newspapers throughout this country including the Savannah Morning News, Athens Banner-Herald, The Florida Times-Union and The St. Augustine Record.
And, yet, Morris is basically silencing a congressional political forum by yanking Crawford from being the moderator because it is being held at the Islamic Community Center of Augusta?
Talk about censorship and ignorance at their very worst.
Insiders say that Morris is about to turn 80 years old in the next few weeks.
His age is definitely showing.
Morris is being very naive to think that his backward thinking is going to go unnoticed.
Rumor is the national media has got wind of story and is pursuing it.
To make matters worse, the Islamic Society of Augusta’s newsletter, which was released on Sept. 18, clearly states that the Columbia County News-Times “cosponsored” the forum.
How did that happen without Morris being aware of the event sooner? In fact, the Columbia County News-Times just published a story about the debate today. Maybe the only way Morris gets the news is by picking up his own paper.
And why exactly did Allen suddenly announce he is not participating in the debate?
The Islamic Society of Augusta’s forum appears to the only debate scheduled in the Augusta area, and Allen agreed to it after Barrow’s camps made several concessions for the Republican challenger.
A few hours after learning that Allen had dropped out of the debate, Barrow posted the following response on his Facebook page:
“This weekend, I was hoping to have an honest discussion with Rick Allen on the issues in this race. There’s a lot of mudslinging happening in our race, and it’s best for folks to hear directly from the candidates. Unfortunately, he has decided not to participate after accepting, and it’s my hope that he will reconsider. We can work out an arrangement that’s beneficial to both candidates and the community on Saturday as we planned.”
It’s a very sad day in Augusta when locals Rick Allen and Billy Morris both embarrass this area by backing out of a much-needed political forum.
Thank you Islamic Society of Augusta and John Barrow for trying to educate Augusta.
Apparently, we would rather dwell in ignorance.