A farce on all sides. If you take the logic here seriously, the difference between a “news” event whose footage is worth airing and a campaign photo op beneath the dignity of journalism is the presence of a single reporter observing the first few moments of pleasantries in Palin’s meetings with world leaders and maybe shouting a question or two which we all know she’ll ignore. Given those options, a thoughtful news org could go one of two ways: Decide that, in the absence of questioning, the whole thing’s nothing more than McCain propaganda and doesn’t warrant coverage even if the reporter’s allowed in, or decide that, whether or not the reporter’s allowed in, the video has some news value to at least some viewers and should therefore be aired but with a disclaimer noting that the McCain camp persists in conspicuously restricting access to their inexperienced would-be VP. Which option does our petulant media choose? Option three — threatening to suppress information unless meaningless editorial access to the photo op is granted. Good work.
The networks had arranged for a “pool” camera– one camera to cover the first few seconds of the meetings, whose video would be pooled or shared with all networks.
Such arrangements are standard when dealing with intimate high-level meetings between leaders and candidates.
But typically, along with cameras, there is an editorial presence– at least one print reporter, one television reporter, and one radio reporter is standard.
However today the McCain campaign told media covering Palin’s trip to New York that they would allow only one editorial person inside.
Then the campaign scaled back further, saying it will only allow a camera and no editorial presence.
The networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox fiercely objected to the McCain campaign’s apparent effort to try to shield Palin from questions. Networks voted today to not use any video coming out of Palin’s meeting as a protest.
The campaign eventually backed down and let a CNN pool producer into the room. And what monster scoop awaited her when she arrived? Quote:
According to the CNN producer who was let into Karzai’s hotel suite with the photographers just before noon, Karzai was talking about his son. Palin was nodding, and asked what his name is. Karzai replied his name was Mirwais and explained that it means light of the house.
The media were escorted out after about 40 seconds.
Campaign aides subsequently announced that reporters would be allowed to accompany photographers into the later sessions with Uribe and Kissinger.
But not for that momentous exchange, the video might not have aired. Whew! As I say, it’s a farce on all sides: Follow the ABC link up top and read down near the end for a description of Palin ducking in the side entrance to the hotel to avoid reporters waiting in front. The whole campaign’s famously scaled down its interactions with the press — McCain himself will be doing his first presser in more than a month this afternoon, so the bruised egos of the Deciders should be on the mend — but their insistence on preventing spontaneous exchanges between her and the media, even on her campaign plane, is bizarre. Whether that’s because they’re afraid she won’t know the answers to their questions, I don’t know, but the longer it drags on and the louder the media whines, the more that impression’s going to be reinforced with undecided voters already iffy on her experience. Presumably they’re going to keep her sequestered until the debate, which is how most voters will judge her, and then relax her interactions with the press a bit in October to kill the “Palin won’t talk” meme. Let’s hope.
Update: Here’s the crap the media was ready to revolt over if they didn’t get to watch it firsthand:
Play-by-play: After the conclusion of the Karzai meeting, your pooler departed the InterContinental shortly after 12:35 p.m. EST in the motorcade headed for 14 E. 76th St. We arrived 12 minutes later, and your pool held briefly in an unlit, musty hallway. We then climbed a white, carpeted staircase and were escorted into an ornate room with a large glass chandelier where the meeting was held.
Your pool was for half a minute. Palin was already seated on a pink stuffed chair, to the right of Uribe, with her legs crossed and her body titled forward. They exchanged pleasantries that your pooler could not hear over the loud clicks of the cameras. On a couch to her right (a few feet back but perpendicular to her chair) sat Scheunemann and Biegun.