Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

ASU President Michael Crow defends Arizona PBS's decision to host Katie Hobbs interview

To best serve the public, Arizona PBS, which is run by ASU at the Cronkite School, has to be "fair and balanced in all things that we do," Crow said


Kari Lake speaking during a press conference in front of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU's downtown campus on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022.

ASU President Michael Crow defended Arizona PBS's decision to host an interview with Democratic governor candidate Katie Hobbs following backlash over the decision from Republican candidate Kari Lake, a state lawmaker and the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

The controversy over Arizona PBS's decision to host the interview stemmed from Hobbs' refusal to participate in a televised debate held by the Clean Elections Commission and PBS. Lake was scheduled to sit for an interview with Arizona PBS Wednesday after Hobbs' decision, a move the commission has made in the past when just one candidate agrees to debate. 

But Lake's interview was canceled after the commission backed out of the event following announcements of the station's intention to interview Hobbs, too.

In an interview with The State Press Thursday, Crow said Arizona PBS — run by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication — has three duties: being fair and balanced, living up to contracts and working for the public.

In scheduling the interview with Hobbs, he said the University was living up to its contract and duty to provide the public with information on both candidates.

"The Clean Elections Commission had a contract for a debate with us," Crow said. "They didn't deliver on a two-candidate debate. It's not our debate. We are the delivery mechanism for the debate."

To best serve the public, Arizona PBS has to be "fair and balanced in all things that we do," Crow said. That means speaking to both candidates.

"I love debates," Crow said. "I'd love to be a debater. I'm a debating person. So, you know, give me a chance to debate. I'm all in."

In response to similar comments Crow made to the Arizona Agenda newsletter about fairness, Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission executive director Tom Collins told the newsletter he was "bewildered."

"Dr. Crow is the most powerful man in Arizona outside of Gov. Doug Ducey. Dr. Crow should not be allowed to simply pretend like he can just make a suggestion," Collins told the Agenda. "Everyone in this state knows that what Dr. Crow says goes."

The Agenda also reported Collins said the commission had no objection to Arizona PBS interviewing Hobbs, but that they never told them about it.

"I think that gives rise to a reasonable inference that there was political influence here at play. And the Clean Elections Commission stands against that kind of insider influence," he said. "We do our business in public because our job is enforce laws that are about the public's right to know."

In response to the Arizona Agenda edition, Lake tweeted Thursday that Crow "admits to influencing an election in favor of a Radical Marxist" and she would be "cleaning up shop" at ASU if elected.

On Twitter Wednesday, the commission called Arizona PBS's decision to schedule an interview with Hobbs in lieu of a one-on-one debate with Lake "disappointing." The commission said the decision broke an agreed-upon shared practice of offering candidates who agreed to a debate but whose opponent chose not to participate the option of a Q&A interview.

Hobbs' interview with Arizona PBS will be streamed on Oct. 18.

"Given today's events, and the need to obtain additional information regarding the last-minute developments, the Commission will postpone tonight's Q & A on Arizona PBS and will identify a new venue, partner, and date when the interview will be broadcast," the commission wrote in the tweet Wednesday.

In a speech delivered in front of the Cronkite School Wednesday, Lake blamed PBS for the cancellation of the interview. 

"These debates have been going on for two decades now," Lake said. "This is a tradition that Katie Hobbs has single-handedly destroyed for the people in Arizona, and she needs to be called out for it, ASU needs to be called out for it, PBS needs to be called out for it, and frankly Michael Crow needs to be called out for it."

READ MORE: Kari Lake's Arizona PBS interview canceled after station scheduled Katie Hobbs interview

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said he intends to introduce legislation to sever state ties and support of Arizona PBS if the station "fails to correct its troubling eleventh-hour decision to circumvent the agreed rules of the Arizona Clean Elections Commission debate," a Thursday press release said.

"It would be inappropriate for the state to continue its relationship with AZPBS, given its sabotaging of the clean election debates that were approved by the voters," Kavanagh said in the press release. 

The intended legislation would apply to all contracts between state agencies and universities and the station. It would include donations along with contracts for services, goods and rental space. It would also prohibit the state from providing donations.

Crow, however, said state funding for Arizona PBS is "tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny numbers slightly above zero."

"We tried to be responsive to the election commission by saying yes, we will hold your non-debate debate," Crow said. "And then we said, to be fair to our responsibility, we'll offer, in addition to that, equal time to the two candidates not as a debate just as a normal ... interview."

Edited by Greta Forslund and Piper Hansen.

Reach the reporter at and follow @wmyskow on Twitter. 

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.

Wyatt MyskowProject Manager

Wyatt Myskow is the project manager at The State Press, where he oversees enterprise stories for the publication. He also works at The Arizona Republic, where he covers the cities of Peoria and Surprise.

Continue supporting student journalism and donate to The State Press today.

Subscribe to Pressing Matters



This website uses cookies to make your experience better and easier. By using this website you consent to our use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie Policy.