WBAL Tv’s Empty Mayoral Debate: Fiddling While Baltimore Burns

“Fatherlessness as a major contributing factor to poverty, crime and education underachievement has long been recognized by researchers but it has been almost totally ignored by policy makers. The time has come to make this a priority issue for discussion in the political arena.” That’s what former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, currently the president of the University of Baltimore, wrote to me in an email Sept. 5.

Tuesday night WBAL television had the final “debate” with three major mayoral candidates: City Council President Brandon Scott (D), Pastor Shannon Wright (R) and Baltimore business owner Bob Wallace (I), all bright, competent, and articulate.

Reminiscent of debates in the 1990’s between President George H.W. Bush, Gov. Bill Clinton and businessman Ross Perot, it was two against one (Scott), discussing some important matters — violence, COVID-19, employment opportunities, government corruption. But unlike those presidential debates, in WBAL’s there was an elephant in the room: the undiscussed cause of causes: the destruction of Baltimore due to the end of the two-parent family.

This forum would have been ideal to discuss this ignored major issue. There would have been no risk to Wright or Wallace, who will lose to happy warrior Scott, who has all the charisma he needs to win. For six decades the mayoral race has gone to the Democrat. In short, here is no evidence that Scott can be beaten. There is similarly no reason to believe that he can effect changes in war-torn Baltimore any more than marginally.

There is nothing wrong with discussing waste incinerators, programs for children and how to reduce corruption in the mayor’s office. But where has there been a discussion in confronting the diminishing population of Baltimore and the increasing percentage of its quite effective criminal population?

Wallace asked in repeated forms, are you better off than you were 5 or 10 years ago?  He called Scott a “symptom,” a young candidate but old established politician who may be personally honest but wouldn’t shake up the corrupt sociology of Baltimore city. Wright did note the many years of violent deaths and decreasing of quality of life.

No change expected

Why would anyone think that things would change, even under new leadership from a mayor, the latest in a long line of Democrats?

I and others have argued for decades that the only way to transform Baltimore is to disincentivize fatherlessness and incentivize stable families. They are the major cause of behavioral disorders, youth violence and bullying, suicides, shortened and inadequate education, illegal drug usage, incarceration and a large host of related social ills.

I had emailed this question last weekend to WBAL TV’s Justin Newton, suggesting that it should be posed in the debate:  “Do you think that the over 70-75% of fatherless families in Baltimore is a major problem, and, if so, what will you do to disincentivize this debilitating phenomenon?”

The email went unanswered.  WBAL Radio — and now television — and the Baltimore Sun will not report on fatherlessness. Their apparent motive in this dereliction of professionalism is that such legitimate focus would lose them listeners and viewers and sources.  It is the soft corruption that perpetuates seminal problems. In layman terms: no guts.

There was not one word on fatherlessness in the hour “debate” — not a single word for an hour. An array of alleviations of violence was discussed — control of police, investments, opportunities: all helpful for Baltimore to an extent, but nothing to address the need to change the population of 72-75% fatherless families in the future or the poverty and violence and other social problems it guarantees.

Dear reader — pressure the media to cover the issue. When it is seriously addressed — or maybe addressed at all — in about a decade positive changes will occur.

People who care only about their own jobs and not their community — media, teachers, clergy, and community leaders — will not address difficult issues. There are exceptions to be sure, but not many.

Baltimore residents, you have nothing to lose but your wretched misery, constant fears of just living in Baltimore, and violence and poverty.

The WBAL TV debate comprised as intelligent a group of candidates and media questioners as you could find — all brains, but judgment? Not so much.

Media don’t care enough to cover this seminal issue; they just want to cover the easy stuff, the symptoms, not the cause.