Archive for September, 2012

Face the State Flashback: Johnson Murphy Debate of ’06
September 28, 2012

As we prepare for the first debate in the hotly contested senate race between Linda McMahon and Chris Murphy, we thought it might be a timely flashback to take a look at past debates.    This Sunday we have some clips from a Face the State 5th congressional debate between Murphy and then Congresswoman Nancy Johnson, hosted by then moderator Al Terzi.

Tune in this Sunday morning at 11 for Face the State on Channel 3. 

UPDATE:  You can watch the flashback right here:

Adriaen’s Landing in Final Phase
September 28, 2012

Back in the day, as a relatively young reporter, I spent plenty of time in the late 1990s covering the Adriaen’s Landing development, which is now in the final phase.    It has been a long road, but things are picking up.   The Front Street entertainment district isn’t open yet, but the tenants are starting to come.   

This Sunday on Face the State, we are joined by Suzanne Hopgood from the Capital Regional Development Authority.  CRDA is the new agency replacing CCEDA, which oversaw the development of Adriaen’s and other downtown projects.

Hopgood has some encouraging updates.  Tune in this Sunday at 11 on Channel 3.

UPDATE:  You can watch the segment right here:

Connecticut Serves Merely as ATM to Obama and Romney
September 28, 2012

Today  Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan has a busy day with three events in three towns in a state where a tight senate race could tip the balance of power in Washington.   He is being welcomed by one of the state’s most prominent Jewish businessmen, who has opened his home to raise money for a ticket with a Mormon and a Catholic.  

It is a state that is “hemorraghing jobs” according to a recent study, and the unemployment rate is at 9%, above the national rate of 8.1%.   A recent poll found this state’s Democratic governor is one of the least popular governors in the country.     Barron’s called it the worst run state in the country.  

It is a state where President Obama has not campaigned, and in the last Quinnipiac poll,  he trailed Mitt Romney by 5 points in the “who do trust more with the economy” question.      Just this week, this state’s supreme court ruled unanimously against the Democratic Secretary of the State, saying Republicans will get the top line on the ballot in November.

All of these factors set up a pretty compelling narrative, that could make positive headlines for the Romney Ryan campaign.    Yet in a stunning decision, Ryan will make no effort to recruit voters in this state during his 8 or so hours here, and no effort to make even the most feeble attempt to get its seven electoral votes.   There will be no public rallies, no visits to a factory decimated by the economy that is standard operating procedure for a campaign,  and absolutely no media coverage.    

That state is my state, Connecticut.     Ryan’s visit to the Constitution State is his first trip to the state as vice-presidential candidate, and will be almost as mysterious as his clandestine trip here in August when he flew into Hartford to drive to Boston to secretly be offered the running mate invitation from Mitt Romney, to avoid the media at the airport in Boston.   

As soon as we learned of Ryan’s visit to Connecticut this weekend, I began putting in requests for an interview to be aired on Face the State.   After all, two of my friends in the business not only interviewed Ryan recently, but the Romney campaign actually offered the interviews and served their candidate up on a platter.   Several other reporters received similar treatment.   

Why them and not me, or any of my colleagues in the Connecticut press corps?    It seems my friends’ viewers are more important to Romney and Ryan than mine.   Those friends are reporters in Ohio and Florida.    

Several leading Republicans in Connecticut have privately grumbled about the Romney campaign’s treatment of a state that has helped Romney outraise President Obama here by nearly a 2 to 1 margin.   This weekend,  Nutmeg Republicans will raise even more money to be spent on television advertising in states far away.   In return,  state Republicans won’t get a bit of help electing their candidates who need every possible break to win here.     At least one told me it is offensive for a candidate to ask someone to shell out up to $10,000 for a picture, while refusing to meet with voters and the media.   This Republican believes Ryan’s spurning of the Connecticut electorate and Republican slate, sends a message to voters that a Republican victory here is a lost cause not worth fighting for,  and this person decided to pass on the Ryan fundraiser.   

I get why the campaign doesn’t want any spend any money in a state they feel they can’t win, but Ryan is going to be here anyway.   Why take a pass at free television on the most watched tv day of the week?     The Giants, Jets, and Patriots are all on tv, meaning lots of eyes could have been seeing the newscasters said “Paul Ryan campaigned in Connecticut today.”      Ryan might get someone who will say “I’m going to vote for the only guy who cared enough to come here and ask for my vote,”   or maybe even inspire someone sitting at home to get out the checkbook.     That’s exactly why both Romney, Ryan, Obama and Biden are spending so much time with retail politics in other states.    

In fact,  yesterday, Ryan held a rally in New Hampshire in an effort to get its paltry four electoral votes because 100 miles away the voters are so much more important.   The Romney campaign offered us the opportunity to drive to New Hampshire to cover that rally.      Thanks, but we really want to cover Ryan while he is in our state.

By shutting out voters,  and the media, viewers will instead be seeing this on the news, “Protestors greeted Paul Ryan as he raised money inside mansions in three exclusive towns.”   

Sure, the most recent poll by Public Policy Polling had Romney 13 points behind Obama here in Connecticut, but the most recent Quinnipiac poll had the margin at 7.   

To be fair, President Obama has also given the “no thanks, see ya later” wave to Connecticut voters.   His recent fundraiser in Westport cost taxpayers thousands of dollars in security, and yet there was no public event, and no media interviews.    Democrats are gleefully confident the president will carry Connecticut, and Obama surrogates can be found in every statewide office and in the congressional delegation, Joe Lieberman being the lone holdout.  

Still,  63% of registered voters in Connecticut are not Democrats.   The biggest bloc of the 1.2 million voters here are registered as unafilliated.    The last Q poll had Romney winning among the unaffiliated.  And Connecticut is a fiercely independent state, that has bucked convention before.  We elected independent Lowell Weicker  governor  22 years ago, and Democrats chose Jerry Brown over Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential primary.  Ask Ned Lamont, being a liberal Democrat does not guarantee you a win in a Connecticut November.

  It would seem to me, the Romney campaign would at least want to try while they are here in the land of steady habits.    If you are going to forfeit the game, why show up at the stadium?     We know the answer:  money.

Read about my quest to get an interview with President Obama:

Miles of Smiles
September 28, 2012

If you are camera shy, then television news is not for you.   In addition to being in front of video cameras, we also have to pose for still photographs, that are used in promotional materials, billboards, and perhaps later as bird cage liners.

Over the years, I have posed for thousands of professional pictures for various stations (this one above was shot in 1988,) and this week at WFSB we had yet another photo session.    Denise and I have been through so many of these things, we try to have as much fun as possible to break up the monotony of an hour of permasmile.       We did catch official station photographer Brian Ambrose and his assistant Kate holding back a few giggles, so we must have done something comical.

For some of these shoots, they give us a prop.  In Hena Daniels’ case..a football.

So what about the old pictures?   They are packed away in the archives where shots of anchors past and present sit in drawers sharing a room with ancient fiilm, videotape and props.     Denise and I are still wondering why we need floor to ceiling chain link fence in the archives,  unless of course there are Dobermans that live upstairs brought in by security after we go home.

Denise was amused to find her antique trading cards, stacked alongside vintage pictures of Gayle King, Mika Brzezinski, Pat Sheehan and other Channel 3 alumni.    She seemed puzzled at this picture, which could be a publicity shot for someone on “Knots Landing.”

More old shots:

Denise from her Cleveland days, early 80s. 

Here I am in Rockford, Illinois in 1989

and in Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo in 1991

Hartford 1995

benefit of working with your wife?  you get a nice portrait!

Kara Sundlun 2000

Mika Brzezinski  1993

Gayle King 1990

Hilton Kaderli 1990

also read: also read:

Simmons & Bysiewicz Defend Former Rivals
September 27, 2012

The debate season kicks off next Sunday, October 7th when Chris Murphy and Linda McMahon face off in their first debate of campaign 2012.    The two will square off in an hour long live Face the State debate.   What can we expect?

To answer that, we turned to two people who have faced McMahon and Murphy in debates.    Former Congressman Rob Simmons debated McMahon in 2010, and former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz debated Murphy this year.

During a taping of Face the State,  Bysiewicz and Simmons told me what we will likely see in the upcoming debate, and both defended their former rivals whom they had attacked during their campaigns.    They also offered advice to the candidates, and filled the role of campaign surrogates for Murphy and McMahn, respectively, despite the bad blood between them and their former opponents.

Both Simmons and Bysiewicz lost bitter battles to McMahon and Murphy, yet during the taping they eloquently promoted their parties’ senate standard bearers.   Simmons told me how he is now on social security and does not believe for a second McMahon would jeopardize that program.    Bysiewicz, who failed in her bid to become Connecticut’s first female senator, effortlessly repeated the Murphy campaign talking points that  Murphy is better for women than the woman in the race. 

We also talked about their own political futures.

You can watch this very spirited discussion, this Sunday morning at 11 on Face the State, only on Channel 3. 

UPDATE:  watch the segment right here:

 Read all about the debate right here:

McMahon & Murphy to Debate for First Time this Morning
September 23, 2012

With a new Quinnipiac University poll showing the U.S. senate race neck and neck, all eyes are focused on one of the most anticipated events of the fall campaign: the first Murphy McMahon senate debate, set for this morning at 11 AM.    Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Chris Murphy will be facing off for the first time in their quest to replace retiring Senator Joe Lieberman.

The Channel 3 Eyewitness News senate debate will be held at 11AM in our Face the State studio.     I will be serving as moderator, and here are our three panelists.

The hour-long, commercial-free debate will be broadcast live on WFSB, and will be streamed live on and simulcast on WTIC AM 1080 and WLIS radio.    The debate is attracting national attention.  C-Span will also carry the debate live., and CNN and CBS will be taking the feed.     It will also be aired later by CT-N.   According to WFSB assignment manager and Face the State producer Chris Collibee, there has  a huge interest from media looking to cover this historic event.

WFSB’s Allison Annino and Tony Meliso standing in for McMahon and Murphy during debate preparations on Friday

Kudos to McMahon and Murphy for agreeing to this debate, and the three others that will follow.   Debates are job interviews, if you will, and it gives voters the chance to see the candidates talk about the issues.   Connecticut voters are fortunate in this regard; in California,  incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein is refusing to debate her opponent.   Watch her refusal here:

Here is a list of folks to follow on Twitter for the debate:

Channel 3 has a rich history of hosting debates.  Here is a look at our very first senate debate, back in 1958!

Happy Belated Birthday, Channel 3!
September 21, 2012

This past weekend Channel 3 turned 56.    On September 21, 1957, your favorite television station went on the air for the first time.     Our call letters then were WTIC, and became WFSB in 1974.

From all of us here at Eyewitness News, thanks to all of our loyal viewers.     We have viewers my children’s ages who have just started watching Channel 3, others who grew up watching us, and those who have been with us every step of the way.   Our first viewers contacted us through the U.S. Mail and rotary telephones, and now we also communicate through e-mail, Facebook and Twitter.




Every Sunday, look for our Face the State flashback, when we rebroadcast one of the stories from the past 56 years. 

Here are some that you may have missed: 

2013: Bob Steele

2011:  Charlie Bagley obituary

2011   Denise’s anniversary

2012:    Dennis’ anniversary



























Weicker: Murphy & McMahon Should be Transparent
September 20, 2012

The only man alive to serve as both Connecticut’s governor and U.S. senator is calling on Chris Murphy and Linda McMahon to focus on the issues instead of negative campaigning.   During a taping of Face the State, Lowell Weicker said he favors a transparent campaign, and told me both the Democrat and the Republican should release any papers related to their financial history, although he believes how the candidates handled their personal finances are irrelevant.

In Murphy’s case, reporters want to see any and all mortgage papers related to the controversy surrounding his missed mortgage payments.    Murphy has refused to allow reporters see the papers, and he won’t say how many payments he missed, and eventually paid.   In McMahon’s case, reporters are also on the hunt for her papers related to her bankruptcy in the 1970s and the creditors she owed.     McMahon says some of the papers have been destroyed, but she plans to repay any debts that may still be outstanding.

“Just let it out to whatever it is that’s there, I don’t think it makes a tinker’s dam to who should be the next U.S. senator,”   Weicker said, in his trademark Fairfield County lingo. 

Weicker endorsed Murphy over his former colleague Linda McMahon, with whom he served on the board of WWE from 1999 to 2011.    During the taping, Weicker was critical of McMahon’s pursuit of the senate seat, saying it should go to someone who has served in elective office.     It’s unclear what Weicker’s role in Murphy’s campaign will be, but he did tell me he will co-host a fundraiser for the congressman.

Weicker acknowledged neither candidate in the race is perfect, and after the taping told me he wished Congressman Joe Courtney had run for the Democrats.

Also this Sunday, we have a debate over the senate race between Republican State Representative Themis Klarides and former State Senator Jonathan Harris.     Harris and Klarides seem to be against the transparency Weicker favors.   Harris said there is no need to see Murphy’s mortgage papers, yet he wants the WWE to release videos assembled while McMahon was CEO.   Klarides argued the videos were available for a long time, and argued that there are still questions to answered about the mortgage controversy.

You can watch the entire interviews this Sunday morning at 11 on Face the State.

UPDATE:  Here are the links to the segments


Klarides & Harris:

UConn Fan Guide to Land of the WMU Broncos
September 20, 2012

If you’re heading out west this weekend to catch the UConn game against Western Michigan University, enjoy Kalamazoo.    I used to live in that city with the funny name, and it’s a fun place.

Back in the early 1990s, I worked as a sports anchor and news anchor at WWMT, the CBS affiliate in the Grand Rapids Kalamazoo market, also a Channel 3.   Kara  also worked in that market, as did Channel 3′s Robert Goulston and ESPN’s Steve Bunin.  You can read about that here:

During my time in Kazoo (people call it that)  I attended a few games at Waldo Stadium, and I highly recommend stopping by Harvey’s right downtown, or Waldo’s Tavern, before or after the game.   If it rains, and you are prone to melting, Waldo’s has a great view of the game.   Here I am doing a live shot from inside Waldo’s during a pre-game show wearing a WMU shirt.   I became a UConn fan after moving to Hartford.

Yankees fans can also check out Kalamazoo Central High School, where I once interviewed an up and coming baseball player named Derek Jeter.

If you are there for the weekend and the weather is nice, I highly recommend taking the short drive to South Haven, where I also lived at an apartment at 306 Kalamazoo Street.  It is a great beach town on Lake Michigan and one of my favorite places.  If you haven’t been swimming in one of the Great Lakes, I highly recommend it.

                                       Lake Michigan off the coast of Grand Haven, Summer ’92

Also check out this amazing tourism video for Michigan.    Look for shots of Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Mackinac Island and the hotel where Kara and I got engaged,  and plenty of other places you should visit….but you need more than a weekend to see it all.

Michigan video:

my old station     

Senate Race Dominating Headlines and the Water Cooler
September 14, 2012

Ever since the Lieberman Lamont epic senate battle in 2006, Connecticut senate races have become a must-see spectator sport.    This year is no different, as voters are debating the McMahon Murphy race over cocktails, across the hedges in their own yards, and of course, on the internet.

This Sunday on Face the State, we have a pretty good debate on the senate race with two men considered rising stars in their parties.     Democrat Dan Drew is the new mayor of Middletown, and Republican Corey Brinson is a former Hartford city council member, who might be a candidate for mayor in 2015.

I invited the two on to talk about the candidates each supports:  Dan Drew for Murphy, and Brinson for Linda McMahon.    It was a lively discussion and you can watch it this Sunday morning at 11 on Face the State, only on Channel 3.

You can watch the segment right here:



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