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S.C. Debate-Watchers Given the Evil Eye

Upstate CBS affiliate said airing the entire debate was never part of the plan.

Saturday's CBS News/National Journal debate was just getting interesting when viewers in South Carolina watching the show were returned to regularly scheduled programming.

It came as a surprise to viewers, moderators and the state Republican Party that South Carolina viewers got the "evil eye" from CBS.

At the beginning of the live debate, CBS newsman Scott Pelley told viewers that when the debate moved to the National Journal and Face the Nation websites, stations in South Carolina and on the West Coast would still carry the debate.

National Journal's Major Garrett even tweeted it early Saturday.

But after a commercial break, instead of seeing moderators Pelley and Garrett, it was Jethro Gibbs and Tony DiNozzo from a rerun of the hit show "NCIS."

Upstate CBS affiliate WSPA-TV was faced with criticism after the debate was pulled. The station’s Facebook page received many comments and the newsroom phones were ringing off the hook.

In a statement from the WSPA’s General Manager Bob Romine, the debate airing the full 90 minutes was never the plan.

“CBS' coverage of the Republican Debate from Wofford College in Spartanburg was scheduled by the network to air for one hour on the CBS affiliates around the country with any overage to air Sunday morning on 'Face the Nation,'” Romine wrote.

“We are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused and for any confusion Mr. Pelley's comments have caused by telling South Carolina viewers to stay tuned for more debate coverage."

WLTX-TV in Columbia reported through their Twitter feed that local CBS affiliates were not allowed access to the last 30 minutes of the debate.

CBS stations in Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Florence also switched to NCIS.

When asked why South Carolina viewers weren’t allowed to watch the last half hour, state GOP Executive Director Chad Connelly said he was unaware of that happening.

“I had heard what they said in the arena that it would be broadcast in South Carolina,” Connelly said. “I had been told that early on, any change in that plan, I was unaware of.”

Pelley also had not heard that the debate feed had been cut from South Carolina stations.

“I don’t know anything about that,” Pelley said. “My understanding was that all of them would carry it, but I don’t know.”

Viewers who tried to watch the remainder of the debate on "Face the Nation" and National Journal websites were faced with site slowness and lots of technical issues. Many of which, a CBS spokesperson was fielding questions about.

WSPA said the highlights from the final 30 minutes of the debate would be shown Sunday morning on Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer.

Jim Shanor November 13, 2011 at 11:09 PM
@anne: What is your problem with "educative?" I do watch ETV and contribute to it in a small way. These "non-debates" are annoying, petty displays of low brow pandering to the narrow biases of the various voter blocs.
Anne Bull November 14, 2011 at 12:30 AM
My apologies to Nicko and Jim. This thread has been more educative to me than I had previously thought. Thanks for expanding my vocabulary.
Eric Wood November 14, 2011 at 12:32 AM
I think the entire debate should have been aired on CBS across the country, I think CBS's decision to air the last 30 minutes on Face the Nation was odd. For me, this was one of the most substantive debates yet. I think the viewers got some good information and got a clear look at the foreign policy experience and philosophy of many of the candidates. www.canigetawordin.com
maizenbluedoc November 14, 2011 at 01:28 AM
I can hardly wait until one of those "egotistical clowns" cleans Obama's clock in a debate without teleprompters. Of course Obama will probably demand that he knows the questions in advance to enable his staff to prepare his answers.
Eric Wood November 14, 2011 at 06:37 AM
maizenbluedoc, I think perhaps y'all have forgotten President Obama's performances at the debates when he ran originally. The teleprompter joke is always good for a quick laugh, but there weren't any when he debated before and he did quite well. I think it will all depend on who the GOP ultimately nominates. I think substantively, Speaker GIngrich would be President Obama's toughest opponent in a debate and for style points, Gov. Romney would be a handful. www.canigetawordin.com

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