The organizer of the sole debate between John Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz fired back after Fetterman’s campaign alleged that the closed captioning system deployed to assist the stroke survivor was slow and “riddled with errors.”
Fetterman’s camp made the allegations in a statement just after the Pennsylvania Democratic lieutenant governor’s disastrous debate performance Tuesday night, which the campaign praised.
“We are thrilled with John’s performance. He did remarkably well tonight – especially when you consider that he’s still recovering from a stroke and was working off of delayed captions filled with errors,” Fetterman communications director Joe Calvello told reporters.
“John won countless exchanges, counter-punched aggressively, and pushed back on Oz’s cruelty and attacks,” Calvello said.
However, Nexstar Media Group, which hosted the debate, rebuked the Fetterman campaign’s claims, alleging that the Democratic candidate’s team didn’t adequately practice before the TV cameras started rolling.
Nexstar said that Fetterman’s team chose to rehearse only once before Tuesday night’s debate.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Fetterman is now criticizing the closed captioning process employed by Nexstar during tonight’s debate,” Nexstar communications chief Gary Weitman said in a statement.
“Both candidates agreed to the technical set-up for the closed captioning process weeks ago, which was implemented at the request of the Fetterman campaign. Both candidates were offered the opportunity for two full rehearsals with the same equipment used in tonight’s debate; Mr. Fetterman chose to do only one,” the statement continues.
Weitman concludes by definitively stating that the closed captioning system functioned “as expected” during the live debate.
“The closed captioning process functioned as expected during rehearsal and again during tonight’s debate. We regret that Mr. Fetterman and his campaign feel otherwise,” Weitman said.
Human captioners transcribed everything said by the moderators and Oz in real-time but not Fetterman’s own words, according to Pennsylvania TV outlet WHTM, and the captions were displayed on two 70-inch monitors placed behind the moderators.
Both campaigns agreed to allow Fetterman to use the closed captioning system during Tuesday’s debate as he recovers from lingering auditory processing issues as a result of his May 13 stroke.
Fetterman’s campaign on Tuesday night didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post regarding Nexstar’s statement.