Massachusetts pols lose media case

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Three fringe Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates tried and failed to have the courts force six media organizations -- including WHDH-TV,
WBZ-TV, WCVB-TV and WGBH-TV, all Boston -- to include them in a debate.

Libertarian candidate Carla Howell, the Green Party's Jill Stein and
independent Barbara Johnson asked state courts In Middlesex and Worcester
counties not to allow the debate unless they were allowed to participate.

The media organizations have concluded that based on polls, only Democrat
Shannon P. O'Brien and Republican Mitt Romney have a chance of winning.

While the excluded candidates said the debate amounts to a broad media
endorsement of the two major candidates, the media argued that the First
Amendment prohibits the government from determining editorial decisions such
as which candidates to include in a debate.

Middlesex Superior Court Judge Linda Giles held that the facilitation of a
debate is not a campaign contribution, for which state campaign-finance laws
apply.

The excluded candidates are likely to continue to press for inclusion in
subsequent debates.

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