Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 6, 2008

CAMPAIGN MINDERS.... It was more than a little troubling when the McCain campaign decided it didn't trust Sarah Palin enough to let her answer questions from the media. But it seems worse for the McCain campaign not to trust Sarah Palin's supporters, either.

Constantly under the watchful eyes of security, the media wasn't permitted to wander around inside Coachman Park to talk to Sarah Palin supporters. When reporters tried to leave the designated press area and head toward the bleachers where the crowd was seated, an escort would dart out of nowhere and confront him or her and say, "can I help you?'' and turn the person around.

When one reporter asked an escort, who would not give her name, why the press wasn't allowed to mingle, she said that in the past, negative things had been written. The campaign wanted to avoid that possibility on Monday.

Think about this -- it was a public event in which a public official, seeking public office, spoke at a public park. Journalists, bolstered by the First Amendment, were told they weren't allowed to talk to voters.

And the rationalization for this is that a political campaign wanted to stifle media access in order to ensure more positive coverage.

Unless there's some key detail the St. Petersburg Times neglected to mention, this sounds quite a bit like madness.

Steve Benen 3:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

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It sounds like shirts of some dark color, whether black or brown I'm not sure.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on October 6, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Nonono Steve,

It's perfectly acceptable to read such a thing in the St. Petersburg Times*

*St Petersburg Russia that is.


Posted by: neilt on October 6, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

We are one election away from a unitary executive run country. Think of it. Cheney replaced by Palin. Bushit replaced by McAce. Jesus H. Christ. One election away...

Posted by: stevio on October 6, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "Unless there's some key detail the St. Petersburg Times neglected to mention ..."

Well, the Washington Post account mentions one detail: when Palin talked about Obama "palling around" with William Ayers, one of her devoted followers shouted out "Kill him!"

Whether that referred to Obama or to Ayers was not clear. But it suggests why the Palin campaign doesn't want the press talking to her supporters -- the result would sound more like a KKK gathering than a campaign rally.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 6, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad some reporter with guts didn't keep on going and push the issue to it's conclusion.

I'm sorry, but you'll have to physically stop me from walking over there. If you do, I'll have you charged with assault.

Posted by: Buford on October 6, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Madness? No. Fascism.

Posted by: rich on October 6, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Why not a system of putting candidates in a museum and deal directly with the spin doctors?

Posted by: Kevin on October 6, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

I've often wondered why the modern GOP makes enemies out of fascists and terrorists when they seem to be so eerily similar in ideology. Just different gods, is all.

Posted by: doubtful on October 6, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

How deep in the panic does a campaign have to be to be this petrified about what might happen if journalists were allowed to interview any of the few people who'd willingly come and see them give a speech?

Seriously, you just know that Johnny Drama is on the phone to El Residente right now just begging him to OK an Israeli strike on Iran before the election.

"Pardons. Immunity. Ambassador to Disneyland. Whatever the hell you want, George, you can have it. But you've got to give me My War!"

Posted by: Tony J on October 6, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

And in an unrelated story, the McCain campaign issued press credentials to St. Petersburg News reporters that read "Leningrad News."

Posted by: anonymiss on October 6, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Why on earth would a reporter stop doing his or her job at a public event because some flack tried to stand in the way?

Good thing the photographers don't fall for this BS. But honestly, why would any reporter?

Posted by: Chris on October 6, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Was that St. Petersburg, Russia?

Posted by: Marko on October 6, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

The reporters need to man up and take the beating. Remember what happened to George "Macaca" Allen. Two of his staff beat up a reporter and the next day the guy was on Keith Olbermann. I would gladly take a beating like that to get on Keith's show. The guy became something of a folk hero, even if he had been acting like a dick, he still got a great scoop. Keep them cameras rolling and go interview those criminals that are the republican base.

Posted by: Patrick on October 6, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Unless there's some key detail the St. Petersburg Times neglected to mention, this sounds quite a bit like madness.

I was thinking it sounded like fascism, or perhaps communism. Hell, take your pick, Mussolini's Italy, Stalin's Soviet Union or Chavez' Venezuela.

This campaign is so over.

Posted by: GuyFromOhio on October 6, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Palin was also in Ft Myers today. They moved the location of her speech, supposedly because of crowd size. I suspect it was to get closer to Coconut Grove. Gotta keep track of those Alaskan earmarks, ya know.

Posted by: Danp on October 6, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

This makes sense to me. I don't trust her supporters either.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on October 6, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

I could have sworn that I submitted those links here earlier this morning, and they didn't turn up in the comments....

You're welcome.

Posted by: Stranger on October 6, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Of course McCain/Palin don't want reporters talking to their supporters. Imagine the quotes! After that, who in their right mind would want to be associated with such filth? Not the people mind you, but with their beliefs and opinions?

McCain is up on MSNBC now trying to emote sincerity. No specifics - just empty words.

Posted by: Lori on October 6, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

If it wasn't the secret service controlling the crowd, and it wasn't a secured area at a public meeting protecting the candidate and her staff, these brown shirts were acting illegally. What good is the press if they won't even defend the freedom of the press? They needed to call an officer of the law to help them defend their rights!

Posted by: candideinnc on October 6, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

This really isn't surprising. I'm sure if McCain thought he could get away with it, neither he nor Palin would be seen in public again before the election.

Reporters need to understand this and act accordingly. If it's a public event, why not send a few reporters in as, simply, "the public"? They could mingle and ask questions of the rest of "the public", and if they are asked to leave, they can ask "the public" what they think about that.

Obama's campaign should pick up on this and use it as another example of just how like Bush McCain actually is.

Posted by: Limbaugh's Diabetes on October 6, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Palin/McCain are absolutely alienating/suppressing the entire media--has done so from the get go--to say that Katie Couric annoyed her (such 'gotcha questions' and to blow off Ifill and to say she wants to speak only directly to the American people (read only through the filter of propaganda she wants to promote) was a big mistake.

It's horrible that she and McCain have gotten away with this much--why aren't the media attacking her?

Posted by: on October 6, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Goes back to my "The Producers-esque" conspiracy theory, that the GOP wanted to lose this election in the hopes that things are so bad, Obama will come off looking incompetent, then they can come in and "save the day" in 2012. to that end, they allowed McCain - a candidate most Republicans despise - to get the nomination. They forced hmi to accept Palin - an incurious greedy thug good at stirring up anti-Democratic sentiment but awful at actual governing - to be his running mate. And if Obama were white, he'd be up 20 points by now.

What they didn't count on was just HOW stupid Palin would sound in interviews, how McCain would come across as SO old SO fast, and just HOW rabid the Evangelical base could become. It's their own dumb fault, they should know by now how UN-Christian the Evangelicals can be in their behavior. The Catch-22 is they gotta keep palin around for appearances' sake, BUT she gets the Evangelical base SO riled up, and they're often not the brightest bulbs in the bin to begin with, it comes across as making the entire GOP look like maniacs. Granted, there are A LOT of maniacs in the GOP, but the party elders do their best to keep 'em in check. But at a Palin event, they feel content to be their wingnut, anti-Semitic, racist, end-times-are-nigh-hallelujah selves. Which, in a society filled with smart people would keep the GOP from ever gaining power again.

Posted by: slappy magoo on October 6, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP faithful are being played like nobody's business. The less they are allowed to actually know about their candidate the better off they feel. If their own candidates don't explain an issue, then it's the liberal media's fault. Candidates are being treated like Christ figures that you just have to have faith in for everything to be all right. "True believers" don't ask questions [or answer them]. Just "knowing" that God is in heaven and a Republican is in the White House is all they need to sleep at night.

Ironically, it's what keeps me awake.

Posted by: chrenson on October 6, 2008 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Yet another win for John DcCheney.

Posted by: Misplaced Patriot on October 6, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK



Take your pick.

For me, it's veracity that will set us free.

Mendacity is McCain/Palin to the tee, to the core. They have NOTHING else but lies to "win" over the idiot-logicaless moronica votons.!!

Time for reporters to get creative and pose as supporters, afterall that's what the McCain camp tries to do.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on October 6, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

According to the latest polls we got the 'rebs on the run -- up in double digits in jesusland, probably not even counting the new registrants.

The 'rebs were last seen abandoning Petersburg & racing south to Richmond. We'll keep 'em runnin' until they hit Tucker Eskew's jacuzzi.

Now all we need is the Cubanos to push up from Florida and we'll have em' boxed in. Freakin' Palin exceptionalists.

$700 billion bailout, the Dow down 700 points the second time in a week -- now that's exceptional.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on October 6, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

...this sounds quite a bit like madness?

No....actually it sounds quite a bit like the last eight years of the bush administration.

McCain = bush Palin more than = cheney

Posted by: dweb on October 6, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

On one NPR broadcast concerning Palin, some supporters were interviewed, where they glowlingly spoke about Palin's "stimulating" intellectual statements and (more frighteningly) her "honesty."
It is with these kinds of sad, poor instruments that the the authoritarian elite has long bamboozled and screwed the world.

Posted by: -jlinge- on October 6, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

... [Palin] wants to speak only directly to the American people ...

What struck me about her saying this was that it was a flat-out statement that she thinks "real" people don't care about the truth. That it's only the media trying to foist off this whole "fact" thing on the unwilling public.

It really is hard to be sympathetic to either McCain or Palin considering the constant, unrelenting barrage of insults I have to endure from them.

Posted by: DH Walker on October 6, 2008 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

It is with these kinds of sad, poor instruments that the the authoritarian elite has long bamboozled and screwed the world.

Amusingly, these are often the same drooling morons who wonder how Kim Jong-Il could possibly be so popular, and how silly the North Korean people are for believing the most transparently ridiculous things about their Dear Leader.

Posted by: DH Walker on October 6, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Your papers please..."

Cue Cheech & Chong cut: "Oh wow man, I got them here somewhere....Will Zig Zags do?"

Seriously....this is freedom? Sounds like Stalin or Hitlers version of freedom: You are free to do what we want you to do!

Posted by: kindness on October 6, 2008 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

You know what it is, at least in part? It's this military mindset that you always need to know your place. If you're critical about anyone above you in the perceived chain of command you're called out of line which is unpatriotic.

Military types have a hard time adjusting to civilian life. The military isn't democratic and soldiers or veterans aren't comfortable standing out from the crowd in any way. By extension they don't want anyone else to stand out.

These guys need civics lessons. They need to understand the rules are different out of uniform.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on October 6, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Legitimate criticism of the McCain campaign, but what about those wimpy journalists? They just let some staff underling tell them how and where they can do their job, much less observe a public event?

Posted by: tballou on October 6, 2008 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

Greater Freedom = less freedom. Voting = no voting. Freedom of Expression = no freedom of expression. I can't decide whether it's "1984" or the "Twilight Zone"; it's certainly not the United States.

Posted by: Milt on October 6, 2008 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Quite simply, they need to disclose these rules before the event, and media outlets need to have standards for what they will or will not accept. If the event rules don't meet the media's access standards, then they don't go, and the event doesn't get coverage. It worked during the U.N. meet 'n greet, and it would work again.

Posted by: El Bruce on October 6, 2008 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Was this the "event" where during Ms. Palin's recounting of Obama's Ayers' connections a person in the crowd yelled "Kill him."???

If that's the case, maybe the reporters weren't allowed to mingle to keep them away from the McCain campaign "plants".

Posted by: sukabi on October 6, 2008 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Given that the media never really cared when "Free Speech Zones" began being set up miles from the event, they really can't complain much about being stuck in their "Free Press Zone."

Posted by: Paul Camp on October 6, 2008 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

So who are the news media traveling with her? Let's find out what organization feel that making the candidate feel good is more important than the obligation of the media to tell the truth.

What a bunch of whimps...does no one have the courage to stand up to the straight talk express? Oh that's right, McCain's views on torture aren't entirely clear yet.

Carry on media in your ever constant search for the truth, unless Sarah wants you caged for the good of the republic.

Thank you for your service to democracy...cowards.

Posted by: Hans on October 6, 2008 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Unless there's some key detail the St. Petersburg Times neglected to mention, this sounds quite a bit like madness."

Not to mention UNAMERICAN!! I'm horrified that the press would put up with such behavior when they have the First Amendment on their sides. To be corralled in one place, unable to do their jobs, it's an outrage!

I think the journalists should either refuse to cover the McCain/Palin campaigns altogether, or take them both to court for trashing the First Amendment.

They ARE NOT above the Constitution and we shouldn't let them get away with what they've done! I say "we" because if we, as a country, ignore their actions today, what will they do next? How long before they try to take everybody's liberties away? This IS still America, isn't it?

Posted by: mrspeel on October 7, 2008 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

What about the transparency that Falin and McLame are always talking about?

There is none. They are bullsh*tting you.

How they have run that campaign is how they will run the country.

How'd that work out for Americans with Bu$h and Cheney shadow government?

Golly gee wowy willokers, not well, you betcha!

Posted by: Shelby on October 7, 2008 at 4:54 AM | PERMALINK

excuse me but.... what happened if the journalists just did their job and ignored these "minders" and just went around them?

I'm pretty sure there is no law forbidding people from attendins a political rally.

Posted by: AC on October 7, 2008 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't read all of the comments but what I think has been missed the most concerning this event is how these so-called journalists allowed themselves to be cowed by a bunch of security dips. What ever happened to "F#%& you! This is a public event in a public arena and you can't stop me from going anywhere"? What the hell has gone wrong with the American media?

Posted by: bobbyc on October 7, 2008 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

I reread the poems "Ozymandias" and "The Second Coming" last night. They express well what I've been feeling more and more about this election and our country.

Posted by: Audeamus on October 7, 2008 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

What happened to fredom of the press? Or did that one get shredded too?

Posted by: mary b on October 7, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK



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