Link between Princeton Tonight and Ozminkowski campaign under scrutiny| Dec 6, 2017
After Undergraduate Student Government presidential candidates Rachel Yee ’19 and Matthew Miller ’19 raised concerns about fellow candidate Ryan Ozminkowski ’19 and his campaign tactics involving , the Ozminkowski campaign faces further controversy.
The student-run television show Princeton Tonight recently received criticism for broadcasting Ozminkowski’s candidacy announcement on Tuesday morning without including coverage on the other candidates.
Ozminkowski is one of Princeton Tonight’s co-founders, along with current showrunner Jordan Salama ’19.
At approximately 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Princeton Tonight announced that they planned to end their election coverage. The announcement emphasized that “candidate Ryan Ozminkowski has separated himself from his leadership role in Princeton Tonight during his campaign.” Ozminkowski’s video has since been removed from the show’s website.
“Salama reached out to me saying they were hoping on providing unbiased coverage, but this was after they already covered [Ozminkowski’s] campaign launch,” Miller wrote in a text. Yee confirmed that she received a similar offer after Princeton Tonight’s release of its Ozminkowski coverage.
In a later interview, Miller noted that Salama reached out “to help assuage a lot of our concerns” and to inform him that “the Ozminkowski campaign and Princeton Tonight are separate entities.”
Yee confirmed that Princeton Tonight notified her that they “would no longer be covering the elections,” a decision that she “really respected.”
Princeton Tonight team member and advocate for USG candidate Rachel Yee, Catherine Sharp ’18 expressed her discontent with Ozminkowski and the show.
“I am disappointed he and his campaign team have dragged all of Princeton Tonight into this,” Sharp said. “Despite having a team meeting the night before, Princeton Tonight’s Facebook was used to post videos of Ryan talking about his candidacy. No discussion was made about any campaign coverage or anything mildly related.”
Sharp said that the broadcasting had been planned and conducted by only some of Princeton Tonight’s team without “the knowledge or consent of the rest of the group, or even its smaller production team, which would normally be informed of such filmed events.”
Sharp also voiced her concerns that Ozminkowski was “making light of the campaign race” and subsequently “making light of the issues.” She added that Ozminkowski had previously requested her opinion on running a “parody campaign” through “explicitly comparing himself to Donald Trump.”
Salama gave a statement to the ‘Prince’ via email about their reasons for ceasing election coverage.
“Princeton Tonight’s decision to withdraw from covering the USG debate and all further election-related events were made after hearing concerns voiced in person by all three candidates,” Salama wrote. “We also acted out of respect for the concerns outlined in writing by the USG in their email to us. We want to thank the candidates and the USG for being understanding of Princeton Tonight’s priorities as a group, and we’re glad to have been able to resolve this fairly.”
Zach Halem ’18, an advocate for Ozminkowski’s campaign, further emphasized that the Ozminkowski campaign had no connection with Princeton Tonight.
“The Ozminkowski campaign would like to make it explicitly clear that Princeton Tonight is not associated [nor] affiliated with the campaign,” Halem wrote in an email. He stated that he was disappointed that “other candidates and associated individuals” were interfering with Princeton Tonight’s efforts to enable communication between candidates and the student body in a “fun and engaging” way.
Halem also spoke at length concerning the desire the Ozminkowski campaign has to “continue working with all media outlets on campus, like The Daily Princetonian, Nassau Weekly, The Princeton Editorial Board, and the University Press Club to deliver relevant and important election news to the student body.”
Voting for the USG winter 2017 elections will take place from noon on Tuesday, Dec. 12 to noon on Thursday, Dec. 14.