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Friday, October 17, 2008

Why Are Reporters Still Covering Palin Rallies? Why Aren’t Reporters Getting Arrested at Palin Rallies?

posted by on October 17 at 7:42 AM

Dana Milbank at the Washington Post:

In cooperation with the Palin campaign, [the Secret Service has] 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.

This is crazy—Palin hasn’t held a single press conference, won’t answer reporters’ questions, insults the “media elites” and “filters” at her rallies, and her crowds have verbally attacked members of the media. And yet the media dutifully shows up at rallies and gives Palin the coverage she wants and needs, coverage that benefits the McCain/Palin campaign, and broadcasts clips of Palin delivering her stump speech. Why? Like I said on September 23

Maybe it’s time for the media to pull all reporters—print and television, photographers and videographers—off the McCain campaign. Entirely. Press coverage of a campaign is supposed to be a two-way street. The candidate wants to get his mug on television, he wants his rallies and speeches broadcast and written up, he wants to use the media to reach the voters. In exchange for allowing themselves to be used, the candidate is supposed to make himself available to reporters and anchors, answer questions, hold press conferences. The McCain campaign isn’t holding up its end of the deal. It’s using the media to reach voters without making Palin and, increasingly, McCain available for questioning.

Why should the media play along? The media should pull reporters off the McCain campaign and refuse to cover rallies or speeches until McCain and Palin start holding press conferences. Period. You want to reach our viewers and readers? Start answering our questions. Don’t want to answer our questions? We’ll ignore you and your campaign.

UPDATE: More from Think Progress:

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 Monday.

Okay, this is nuts.

First, reporters should not allow themselves to be “turned around” by anonymous “escorts.” Push the fuck past ‘em. And if the Secret Service or other law enforcement officers get involved, tell them that you’re going to do your job, that you’re not going to sit in a pen, and finally tell them—Palin’s “escorts,” Secret Service agents, local cops—that if they want to stop you from asking questions they’re going to have to arrest you. Then instead of tape of Palin delivering her moronic stump speech, Americans can watch video of reporters being dragged from Palin rallies in handcuffs.

Those images will appeal to some Americans—particularly the kind of Americans that show up at Palin rallies—but the overwhelming majority of Americans will be horrified, and it will make it clear to Americans just how deeply un-American Palin, her supporters, and her rallies all are.

There has to be at least one reporter covering Palin who is willing to get arrested—for asking questions!—to defend the role of a free press in our democracy.

UPDATE 2: A reporter was assaulted at a Palin rally yesterday.

RSS icon Comments


There is a report of an assault on a reporter at a Palin rally here:

This has gone too far.

Posted by Al | October 17, 2008 8:09 AM

It's about damn time someone in the press said this. I have beem wondering it myself for weeks now.

Posted by Jay | October 17, 2008 8:13 AM

at the huffington post, honey, not the washington post.

Posted by scary tyler moore | October 17, 2008 8:19 AM

oops. the original was from the washington post. my bad.

Posted by scary tyler moore | October 17, 2008 8:20 AM

Why don't you do it? I'm only saying this because no one in the press corps has any balls. Haven't the last 8 years taught us as much? So if it's gonna happen, it's going to have to be you.

Posted by heywhatsit | October 17, 2008 8:23 AM

I'll do it!!

Posted by Gabriel Herrin | October 17, 2008 8:27 AM

send in brenday kiley. he loves getting maced, punched in the face, etc...

Posted by erostratus | October 17, 2008 8:32 AM

Can't you just hear the mea culpas coming from the oped pages after President Palin fucks the country up more than it already is?

Posted by Vince | October 17, 2008 8:45 AM

they'll grow pairs & pairs as soon as obama's sworn in. watch.

Posted by max solomon | October 17, 2008 9:15 AM

Dan, Why aren't you sending your supposed incredulous anti-hack squad to do it? Cause you're all a bunch of pussies when it comes down to it?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 17, 2008 9:16 AM

Fuck the press. Reporters have had eight goddamn years to do their fucking jobs, and what have we got from it? Nothing of use. If America's press had been doing what it was supposed to do, public pressure would have led to Bush and Cheney's impeachment three years ago.

Posted by Greg | October 17, 2008 9:30 AM

This is indeed digusting an profoundly un-American. Republican hypocrisy has reached a new, glorious apotheosis.

Meanwhile, amidst this bizarre circus hopeful signs abound. Even Republican apologist David Brooks, a "thinking person's conservative," has publicly stated that Palin is not qualified. And Palin's positive ratings have been steadily dropping as real Americans see through her facade.

In a few weeks, the arrogant & clueless (never a good combination) Caribou Barbie will hopefully be headed back to her outpost in Alaska, where she can keep an eye on Putin rearing his head, and where she can face the bipartisan commission investigating her abuses of power.

Posted by blackhook | October 17, 2008 9:33 AM

I totally agree with Dan-- though not surprised.

This type of blind sheep behavior seems to be more typical these days. Glen Greenwald at has written extensively on this general topic of press corps impotence (my word, not his) and suggests that it's the very real threat of being blacklisted that keeps the captives from challenging their captors.

With that in mind, I second the notion that Dan should assign this story! It would make a great narrative and a nice followup to the wonderful piece written from the RNC.

Posted by John | October 17, 2008 9:40 AM

Mrs Palin hasn't held any press conferences? She's sounding more like Hillary Clinton--who never held any press conferences, either--every day.

And, frankly, given the treatment she's been getting by the media, I don't see why she should hold any press conferences. I know liberals/progressives here and in Europe who are no friends of Mrs Palin, but are astonished at the relentlessly negative coverage she's getting. Her approval rating in Alaska exceeds that of the Democrat Congress by an order of magnitude, but you wouldn't know that from the networks. She resigned from a $122K-a-year job of the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission because a Republican Governor told her to keep quiet about another Republican Commissioner who was doing party work on State time; and she's still the only politician I can ever recall, as Wasilla mayor, to voluntarily take a pay cut--a REAL cut, meaning fewer dollars this year than last year. But you wouldn't know that from the networks, either. They're playing the same card they've played for years; they're as obsessed with race as George Wallace ever was. Say anything at all against a person of colour, and you're automatically a racist. Unless, of course, that person is Clarence Thomas, Condi Rice, Michael Steele, or anyone else from the "other" party.

Posted by Seajay | October 17, 2008 9:43 AM


Seconding John @13.

Wouldn't this make a great segment for you on Real Time With Bill Maher (where your work has been superbly entertaining and insightful)?

Posted by blackhook | October 17, 2008 9:45 AM

Well Dan, I volunteer you. Get to it.

Posted by Ivan Cockrum | October 17, 2008 9:46 AM

Seajay, Palin has been getting a remarkably soft treatment from the media considering how staggeringly unqualified she is for the job. The depth and breadth of her ignorance about federal government and law - revealed in fragments, over time, as information has slowly come out through gaps in the McCain campaign's screen - is damning enough that anyone with a brain has already rejected her as a serious contender. Caribou Barbie, indeed.

Posted by Greg | October 17, 2008 9:50 AM

@14. Are you incapable of using Google? Type in "Hillary Clinton Press Conference" and you'll get plenty of results from the time she still campaigning, many with audio and video.

Posted by Julie in Chicago | October 17, 2008 9:50 AM

The idiotic bitch will be here in Indianapolis this afternoon. Makes me sick to be in the same area code as her.

Posted by annnonnn | October 17, 2008 9:55 AM

Hell yeah, Dan. I completely agree.

So, you, with your newspaper and stuff. . . do it! Go, or send somebody! "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." :D

Posted by violet_dagrinder | October 17, 2008 9:58 AM

Excellent rant Dan. Good on you for bringing it around again.

One point, from personal campaign experience (albeit some years ago). All presidential campaigns have staff aides and advance people who are wired, and have lapel pins, that look a lot like the Secret Service.

These people herd the press from place to place, telling them where they can go and where not. It's far more likely that it's these people, not the Secret Service, who are keeping reporters from asking questions of people at Palin rallies. (Although it's conceivable that if a reporter tries to leave the designated press area and move into the crowd, the Secret Service might say no.)

Secret Service agents have an enormously stressful job. They obviously have to protect candidates of all political stripes and, over the years, they've developed methods of working with campaigns without becoming part of the campaigns. To do the latter would be destructive. Word would travel fast.

None of the above should prevent the press from figuring out creative ways to question the candidates and their supporters. The idea that a candidate for VP/USA is three weeks from election without holding a bona fide press conference is outrageous, to say the least.

Posted by Mr. Viking | October 17, 2008 9:59 AM

#14, pay cut shmay cut. There are forms of wealth other than money, namely power.

Posted by w7ngman | October 17, 2008 10:05 AM

To the long list of things Seajay doesn't know or understand, we can add "order of magnitude".

This is terrifying, really. She is deliberately drumming up violence. Public violence, civic violence.

Posted by Fnarf | October 17, 2008 10:29 AM

It's almost like she's throwing a tantrum because she's not doing so well.

Posted by kevin | October 17, 2008 10:36 AM

This is GOP SOP. They have utter contempt for law and due process. The GOP are steadily eviscerating the Bill of Rights. When they get through all of the others they will finally go after the gun rights crowd that has so soundly supported them to the detrimate of all of the others. Then we will really be living in the capapitalist totalitarian state which is the logical conclusion of the Republican agenda since the 1870's. For them, freedom of capital is the only imperative. I like living in rich country but not enough to give up my personal freedoms. I really hope we can legislate some protections and regulations that will help sustain the middle and working classes.

Posted by inkweary | October 17, 2008 11:11 AM

I'll admit to a mistake--I'm right often enough that I don't mind: Hillary Clinton (whom I respect and admire by the way) has held press conferences. On the other hand, neither is it true that Mrs Palin hasn't; she had one on 8 October.

"Order of magnitude," the last time I checked, meant 'times ten.' With Mrs Palin's approval ratings as governor in Alaska around 80%, and the Democrat-led Congress' approval ratings at around 8%, that's pretty near enough. Not that you will hear those specific figures in the media either.

I'll go on record as agreeing with inweary's last two sentences.

Posted by Seajay | October 17, 2008 11:29 AM


Wandering into the press area of her campaign's plane does not equal a press conference. You are a typical Republican liar.

Posted by keshmeshi | October 17, 2008 12:23 PM

This sounds like a good project for the public intern. Is he still around? If not, can you recruit for someone who's good with cameras and looks hot with handcuffs on?

Posted by freshnycman | October 17, 2008 12:30 PM

@26 - Be prepared to admit to another mistake - Palin's approval ratings in Alaska since Troopergate and running for VP have fallen to 60%. Sure that is still an approval rating most politicians envy, but last time I checked, 80% and 60% are very different things. I'm a resident of Alaska and a citizen of America. Sarah Palin does NOT speak for me either as an Alaskan or an American. BTW, her tactic of being strategically unavailable is something she's been pulling as governor since she was first elected - it didn't just start with her V.P. nomination

Posted by Jennifer | October 17, 2008 1:54 PM

Don't be so naive. The media are pro-GOP; they're deliberately covering her ass.

Posted by guy | October 17, 2008 4:49 PM

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