The New York Times‘ Michael Cooper reports that the liberal, McCain-hating* media are mad as hell, and might not be willing to take it much longer. As Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin meets with foreign leaders and American foreign policy heavyweights at the United Nations in New York City today, the McCain campaign attempted to enact a new, even more restrictive media policy for covering the meetings: cameras only. That means no producers, and no print writers.
But the McCain-Palin campaign’s sharp limitations on coverage of the meetings have sparked a mini-revolt – and a threatened boycott — among the press corps.
The campaign plans to bar print reporters from the meetings, and to limit coverage to brief photo-ops for a still photographer and a television camera. The television stations, though, are objecting, noting that they have a policy of not sending cameras to cover events without a producer, who provided editorial guidance.
A stand-off has ensued, with the networks threatening not to send cameras. The newspapers are trying to get back into the act as well.
Generally, events such as this are covered by a small “pool” of reporters, which includes writers from the wire services, a newspaper, a photographer, and a network or cable news crew, including a producer. CBS’ Scott Conroy sheds a little more light on the impact of such a policy:
This means that the McCain/Palin campaign would get the benefit of free pictures of Palin’s meeting with world leaders without having to face the possibility that the candidate might have to answer a question from the media.
Television networks, including CBS News maintain a policy that if they are prevented from having an editorial presence at an event, they will not allow cameras to shoot it.
TV producers also often act as reporters and maintain blogs. Barring them also prevents the media from picking up and reporting any tidbits of the conversation. Politico’s Ken Vogel reports that the campaign relented somewhat and allowed CNN’s producer to sit in, but barred a print reporter.
As many are noting with increasing frequency, it is now nearly a month and a half since Sen. John McCain has held a press conference, and Palin has never taken questions from her press corps since she became the vice presidential nominee. The campaign’s actions indicate a desire to further clamp down on the media’s access. The reporters are in a tight spot — they are paid to cover whatever the McCain campaign does, so they don’t have the option of not doing their jobs. Today’s events prove that if they make enough noise, they can at least stop the campaign from shutting them out further.
UPDATE: McCain has scheduled a press conference TODAY at 4 p.m. EDT. Also, The Associated Press reports that campaign relented and will allow print reporters into Palin’s meetings with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and Henry Kissinger.
*Disclaimer — Sarcasm Level: Extreme
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