NBC officials said Friday that the network is planning to invite Libertarian presidential hopeful Gary Johnson to discuss his national security platform on its cable news channel, but there is mounting frustration among military veterans who believe he has earned the right to appear alongside Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at a primetime event scheduled for next month.
Mark Kornblau, a spokesman for NBC, told Military Times that the network wants Johnson to participate in a separate event to be aired on MSNBC "in the near future." It will address "the same set of issues related to national security and veterans," Kornblau said.
The network's decision appears to be prompted, at least in part, by backlash among veterans supporting Johnson's surprisingly strong candidacy. The former New Mexico governor, who captured just 1 percent of the vote during his previous presidential bid in 2012, has become a potential spoiler this time around, in an election year marked by widespread dissatisfaction with the major parties' nominees.
Kornblau did not immediately address additional questions about the network's plans for inviting Johnson to appear on MSNBC.
The event with Trump and Clinton, scheduled for Sept. 7 in New York City, was organized by NBC in partnership with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, one of the nation's largest advocacy groups for those who've served in the military since 9/11. IAVA has nearly 190,000 members, according to its website, and says it is nonpartisan.
Johnson's campaign has not responded to numerous inquiries from Military Times.
Dylan Milroy, a Marine Corps veteran spearheading the cause to have the Libertarian appear at the NBC-IAVA event in September, said he is unimpressed with the network's gesture.
"This is not about MSNBC," Milroy said. "This is about the IAVA claiming to represent ... veterans while actively ignoring them by the masses."
A spokesman for IAVA said Thursday that organizers were looking into the prospect of having Johnson join Trump and Clinton in New York City. It appears now that those efforts were unsuccessful.
Milroy, who served in the Marines from 2010 to 2014, estimates that so far he has rallied more than 100 fellow veterans via the social networking site Reddit, but the cause appears to have spread across other social media platforms since news of their efforts first arose Thursday.
If Johnson does accept the invitation to appear on MSNBC, it's unlikely to draw the same number of viewers were he to appear with Trump and Clinton. That's disappointing, Milroy said.
"All I know," he added, "is I am not stopping until he is on that forum."
Air Force veteran Louis Honeycutt, who also petitioned IAVA for Johnson to be included in the Trump-Clinton forum, said NBC's invitation to Johnson is a big step in the right direction.
"I'm still hoping the IAVA does the right thing and invites [Johnson] too, though," he said. "It will send a strong message that they actually do care about their veterans."
Charlsy is a Reporter and Engagement Manager for Military Times. Email her at email@example.com.