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Wednesday, September 24, 2008
NewsBusters Falsely Conflates Media Lockouts
Topic: NewsBusters

A Sept. 23 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd appears to misleadingly cite news accounts to claim that Sarah Palin's intial refusal to allow reporters to cover meetings with foreign leaders at the United Nations is equivalent to Barack Obama's closed-door meetings with leaders on his European trip earlier this year.

Shepherd cited "a 7-paragraph article" by the Associated Press about how Palin "[Banned] reporters from meetings with leaders," adding that "A review of media coverage from Obama's behind-closed-doors chats with European heads of state, however, shows no such complaint by the media about a lack of access." But the article to which Shepherd linked now goes to a longer AP article that, if it didn't tell the full story, it does now:

The GOP campaign, applying more restrictive rules on access than even President Bush uses in the White House, banned reporters from the start of the meetings, so as not to risk a question being asked of Palin. [emphasis added]

McCain aides relented after news organizations objected and CNN, which was supplying TV footage to a variety of networks, decided to pull its TV crew from Palin's meeting with Karzai.


Bush and members of Congress routinely allow reporters to attend photo opportunities along with photographers, and the reporters sometimes are able to ask questions at the beginning of private meetings before they are ushered out.

At least two news organizations, including AP, objected to the exclusion of reporters and were told that the decision to have a "photo spray" only was not subject to discussion. After aides backed away from that, campaign spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said the reporter ban was a "miscommunication."

So the problem was not that Palin banned coverage of the entire meeting; it's that she banned coverage of the beginning photo op. Shepherd offers no evidence (at least not in the AP article he cites) that Obama banned reporters from any opening photo op.

Meanwhile, a Sept. 23 post by Brent Baker baselessly accused NBC of being "jealous" that it's "the only broadcast network evening newscast snubbed so far by Palin," thus purportedly motivating it to "devote[] a full story to how reporters were initially barred from her photo-ops with foreign leaders and her general lack of availability to the press."

Posted by Terry K. at 2:22 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 2:35 AM EDT

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