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Sept. 23, 2004

Ralph Nader at commencement


Lewisburg, Pa. — An hour-long PBS special on independent and third-party candidates running this year for the U.S. presidency — shot in part at Bucknell University and including interviews with three recent Bucknell graduates and an associate dean at Bucknell — will air on PBS stations Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

The program is part of a PBS series aimed at getting more voters involved in the electoral process.

PBS stations in the region include WVIA-TV in Pittston, WPSX-TV in State College, and WITF-TV in Harrisburg. WVIA and WPSX will air the program at 10 p.m. on Sept. 29. WITF will air it on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 11 p.m. — unless the presidential debate is cancelled, in which case it will air at 9 p.m.

Viewers interested in watching the program should check their local listings.

The program, "Crashing the Parties," was produced by AWARD Productions of Billerica, Mass., near Boston. The segment shot at Bucknell, just under two minutes long, shows Ralph Nader speaking at Bucknell's 154th commencement this May and includes interviews with:

  • Christoper Zappe, associate dean of faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences at Bucknell;

  • Jessica Briski, a May 2004 graduate of Bucknell and president of Bucknell's graduating class of 2004 (hometown: Pittsburgh);

  • Christopher Snyder, a May 2004 graduate (home town: Drexel Hill); and

  • John Sheehan, a May 2004 graduate (home town: Wenona, N.J.).

Nader was chosen as Bucknell's commencement speaker before he declared his candidacy for the presidency, by a committee of Bucknell students, faculty members, and administrators. At the request of the university, Nader did not mention his political campaign during his commencement address. He spoke on civic engagement.

During his interview, asked about Nader's appearance at commencement, Zappe comments: "This is . . . really about us celebrating the accomplishments of these graduates; it's not a day to advocate one political point of view or another."

The production crew shooting the program was interested in coming to Bucknell because they had already covered Nader at many political functions and were eager to get video of him in a non-political setting. Led by writer and senior producer Darren Garnick, the crew consisted of photojournalist Thomas Danielchhek and sound technician Alan Gray. The crew spent virtually the whole day on Bucknell's campus.

"Nader's dry message of civic duty and responsibility had a surprising resonance with his young audience," said Garnick, senior producer of the PBS special. "Nader gives more credit and respect to the power of students than most politicians do — it's no wonder why he still enjoys popularity on college campuses nationwide."

The Bucknell segment begins about 25 minutes into the program.

According to the PBS website, "Crashing the Parties" profiles "all the third-party candidates who are on enough state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning the presidency. Spanning the ideological spectrum, these underdogs share one thing in common — a passionate desire to make America a better place."

The program juxtaposes brief glimpses of the George Bush and John Kerry campaigns with the efforts of the following third-party or independent candidates: Michael Badnarik, Libertarian Party; David Cobb, Green Party; Michael Peroutka, Constitution Party; and Ralph Nader — who is trying to unite America's ideologically diverse third parties into one movement.

Commentators appearing on the program include Harvard University lecturer Jesse Ventura, the professional wrestler who in 1998 won an independent bid for the Minnesota governorship.

The upcoming airing of "Crashing the Parties" is part of the national broadcast line-up of "By the People," a PBS series of political documentaries, news specials and educational programs aimed at getting more voters involved in the electoral process.

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For more information about "Crashing the Parties," go to http://www.pbs.org/previews/parties_2004

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