Saturday, October 18, 2008

Beating the press

By Libby Spencer

Literally. With the GOP in general and McCain and Palin specifically villianizing the 'liberal media' as the mortal enemy of conservatives I suppose it was only a matter of time before the physical attacks began.

And then he kicked the back of my leg, buckling my right knee and sending me sprawling onto the ground.

From my position there I saw the bottoms of a number of feet almost accidentally stomping me to death as the two political camps screamed back and forth, the music continued to blare and some of the Obama crowd moved the large bearded man and his friends away. When I was helped to my feet the bearded man was walking away quickly.

For a moment I considered running the bloated, twelve-sandwich eating prick down and beating the living hell out of him…and then I remembered that I’m a reporter, how much I enjoy being gainfully employed and how hard it would be to keep my job if I got into a fistfight with a guy at a political rally.

I happen to know Joe Killian in the cyber-sense and he's a very mild guy who would never provoke such an attack. Thankfully he wasn't injured but how long before someone gets seriously hurt?

On a metaphorical level, this from Steve Benen is in a way even more disturbing.

Yesterday, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank added some details.

"I have to say the Secret Service is in dangerous territory here. In cooperation with the Palin campaign, they've started preventing reporters from leaving the press section to interview people in the crowd. This is a serious violation of their duty -- protecting the protectee -- and gets into assisting with the political aspirations of the candidate. It also often makes it impossible for reporters to get into the crowd to question the people who say vulgar things. So they prevent reporters from getting near the people doing the shouting, then claim it's unfounded because the reporters can't get close enough to identify the person."

Now, this is an important detail. I'd assumed the escorts/minders were paid campaign staffers, but Milbank explained that it's the Secret Service that's blocking reporters from chatting with voters. If that's the case, we're talking about a rather obvious First Amendment violation.

When I read the original reports, I had the same impression that the reporters were being blocked by internal staffers. If in fact the Secret Service is doing this, it is indeed a serious FA violation and yet more proof that the police state has morphed from tin foil theory into a true threat to our democracy.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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