This afternoon, I was quickly and firmly barred from entering Rob McKenna's ladies' campaign luncheon at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel when I showed up to cover the event. I'm not entirely surprised because, as Dom noted this morning, we didn't get the press release announcing it.
"Out, damned spot!"
I'm sure I stood out in my Pretty Woman business casual attire. Nevertheless, his staff greeted me with polite acceptance when I identified myself as press, so I'd bet other reporters were allowed in the Statewide Women’s Leadership Luncheon, where McKenna was enthusiastically unveiling the "key role" women would play in implementing his "New Direction for Washington State," should he become our next governor.
But his staff became politely unhelpful as soon as I identified myself as a Stranger reporter.
"This is private event and not for press," one staffer told me. "You'll have to move elsewhere."
I asked where "elsewhere" was—could I listen at the keyhole, maybe? or did I have to stand 10 feet back or move to the lobby or what?—but the man simple repeated his one rehearsed talking point like a sweaty parrot. So I left.
This wasn't a public theater stunt. I know McKenna's staff shits blood whenever Goldy skips into a room but I'm half as old or hairy as Goldy and the last time I checked, my vagina's got double the street cred. I wanted to attend this event because McKenna has been, at best, tight-lipped when it comes to women's issues when campaigning in one of the most progressively pro-choice states in the nation and, at this event, he was reportedly taking lady-related questions from his "diverse" audience.*
That hasn't happened yet in McKenna's race to the governor's mansion because he's as good at ignoring reporters (and not just from The Stranger) as he is at ignoring women's issues. Take his months-long silence on whether he supported state legislation that would require insurance companies to offer equal coverage for abortion and maternity care—a silence that was only broken after he shrilly screamed at a young woman to "go get a job" when she cornered him on it.
I get it: McKenna and his staff doesn't like The Stranger. (They're not alone!) But summarily barring Stranger reporters from covering political events seems not only dumb, it gives credence to the impression that McKenna, a seasoned lawyer, is incapable of answering pointed questions from critics or handling the analysis of one 28-year-old woman in Pretty Woman business casual attire.
And that's pretty pathetic.
*From what I could see through the gilded doors, his audience was a predictable collection of older white women. The room was filled with pearls and hot flashes! Also, five minutes before the event began, it looked far from sold out, as advertised.