17 October 2008

UPDATED BELOW*

Two quotes. Which one is from the Beijing Olympics, and which is from a Sarah Palin rally? Number 1:

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.

#2:

One volunteer said that in addition to biological and chemical weapons attacks and bombings, volunteers were told to guard against journalists, so they say that their job is to “prevent drugs, prevent bombs, and prevent journalists.” … from the point of view of the organizers and decision makers, the media is an imaginary enemy with a full body of poison.

Andrew Sullivan keeps comparing Palin to Putin. But when was the last time there was public event of international significance in Russia for them to even try to dismiss journalists from? This lazy shorthanding of Russia and the Soviets for anything vaguely authoritarian has got to stop. It’s very important to distinguish between your different flavors of authoritarianism, otherwise you’re just flailing your arms. Know thy taxonomy.

I wasn’t at the Scranton event, but I have to say the Secret Service is in dangerous territory here. In cooperation with the Palin campaign, they’ve 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.

The Secret Service? Just making the case for my analogy all the better, are we?



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