Palin camp limits media from her own supporters

October 7, 2008

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Political rallies are usually ideal for reporters to chat with party activists, but the campaign of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin took an unusual step by appearing to limit access to her supporters.

clearwater-rally.jpgAt Monday’s rally in the battleground state of Florida, reporters were barred from wandering around the area where the Alaska governor’s supporters had gathered. 

About 20 seconds into an interview I attempted with Brent McDonald, 52, I was stopped by a Palin campaign worker in mid-sentence. “The press is not allowed out here,” she said. 

I asked why. “I”m just telling you what they are telling me,” she replied.

A St. Petersburg Times reporter wrote that a campaign worker said that in the past negative things had been written.  “The campaign wanted to avoid that possibility Monday,” the reporter wrote on the newspaper’s “This Just In” blog.

In my case, I thought there might be an easy explanation that had little to do with media control. As a Reuters correspondent, I typically travel in what is called a “press pool” — a group that sticks closely to the candidate and rides in the motorcade. We go where the candidate goes. 

The “pool” is searched or “swept” by the Secret Service in the morning. Once that’s done, protocol requires we generally don’t mix with the public. That means staying clear of the big throngs at rallies. Otherwise, we’ll need to be searched again by the Secret Service — a tricky task when a motorcade is about to tear out of a rally.

But on this ocassion, I made it clear to Palin’s campaign that Clearwater was my last stop. There was no need to “sweep” me again. I wouldn’t be traveling with the pool for the remainder of the day. That freed me to mingle with the crowd.

So, I continued in my attempt to interview McDonald, who was starting to explain that his family were Democrats but that he was going with the Republican ticket. 

“I can trust them. McCain fought for us and it’s pretty hard not to trust a woman who is a mother of five,” he said. But as he was about to launch into another thought, a second Palin campaign worker interrupted us, asking me to leave the area.

I jotted down McDonald’s name and was ushered into an area gated away from the main group of Palin supporters.      

The crowd, estimated by police at around 5,000 people, feted the 44-year-old self-described “hockey mom” like a rock star. The crowd was especially enthusiastic in an area that was tightly organized with one section of supporters all dressed in blue shirts, another in red, and another in white. Standing together, they formed a human American flag. 

Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank reported that some Palin supporters at the Clearwater rally turned on reporters in the press area, shouting abuse after Palin blamed CBS News anchor Katie Couric’s questions for her “less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media.”

“Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, ‘Sit down, boy’, Milbank wrote.  

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

– Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Szep (Palin supporters with their outfits form a U.S. flag behind the stage)


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Sarah Palin has had an interesting relationship with the media since McCain picked her for his vice-presidential running mate. To learn more about her relationship with the press, visit The Dailysource at #palin_restricts_press_access_while_meet ing_with_world_leaders_at_un. The Daiysource has its own special page for Sarah Palin, covering everything from her stance on spending to her views on global warming.

Posted by Robert | Report as abusive

That’s funny — the Bush Administration hates the media too and has been extremely secretive over the past 8 years.
That’s how we ended up in 2 wars and woke up to a melting economy that Bush said again and again was healthy.

So Sarah Palin doesn’t like the media either. I guess we can expect more of the same afterall.

Some maverick you are Sarah.. you’re nothing but Cheney in a dress and that truly requires quite a bit of lipstick.

Posted by carson grey | Report as abusive

This is frightening. I was thinking of Hitler when I read this article. The McCain/Palin campaign is hate- and fear-mongering. For a candidate that “works across the aisle” there is no evidence here of celebrating differences, instead they are being incredibly divisive. I’m appalled.

Posted by hobbes1128 | Report as abusive

She might be the most incompetent candidate ever.

Posted by hottopics | Report as abusive

Palin = Troopergate, Bridge to Nowhere, Alaskan Independence and Ruskies in her backyard.
McCain = hothead, he cheated on his ex-wife (6 years), collaborated with Vietnamese and Russian. (POW), participated to the keating financial scandal

Palin, McCain , not ready to lead, but ready to cheat on American people for four more years.. ory/make_believe_maverick_the_real_john_ mccain  /alaska-women-reject-palin-rally-is-hug e/ -10-temper-tantrums-of-all-time/

Posted by tod | Report as abusive

What are they so afraid of??? The truth? The fact that her last rally took on distictly KKK “Kill Him” overtones?
These folks are beyond frightening and will do anything to win. They want a police state.
If they steal this election expect nothing short of a revolution. America has had enough of these fascists.

Posted by Hdtex | Report as abusive

[…] Palin camp limits media from her own supporters – Reuters BlogsCLEARWATER, Fla. – Political rallies are usually ideal for reporters to chat with party activists, but the campaign of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin  took an unusual step by appearing to limit access to her supporters. At Monday […]

Posted by Palin camp limits media from her own supporters – Reuters Blogs | Sarah Palin- VP Candidate- Soccer Mom | Report as abusive

I saw this on the local news here in Florida. The rally started with a hard core law enforcement guy making a nasty remark about stopping “Barack Hussien Obama”. It went downhill from there. Palin worked the crowd up to a fever pitch to the point where someone yelled “Kill Him”.
It’s frightening that we have a major political candidate out there holding rallies where death threats are made against their opponent and racial slurs are hurled and they just smile and keep ranting.

Posted by Vickie from Florida | Report as abusive

“A St. Petersburg Times reporter wrote that a campaign worker said that in the past negative things had been written.”
Oh so the press can’t write anything unless it’s positive? I guess the Republicans have gotten so used to having Fox at their disposal they can’t handle real journalism.

Posted by Vickie from Florida | Report as abusive

I am very disapointed that the American election has become so dirty and nasty. What example are they giving to the world. Instead of telling the people what they have to offer, the agenda they need to present that will affect the American lives positively, they prefer attacking their opponent. It’s totally absurd. It’s a shame.

Posted by Elendu | Report as abusive

If press wants to interview audience members then don’t go to the press box but mingle with the audience without showing a pass. Conservatives are tired of having their words twisted or interviews edited to make them look bad. Plus the media slandered Palin as soon as she was announced and took every nasty rumor as gospel and blasted the made up scurrilous rumors as facts. The Press showed they hated Palin right from the beginning. So why should Palin supporters trust the press?

Posted by tasha | Report as abusive

It seems to me that Sarah Palin is allowing a lot of racist things to go on during her campaign stops, and that John McCain is doing nothing to curb it. Shame Shame.

Posted by John Weber | Report as abusive

Sarah Palin is a Domestic Terrorist, ramping up a crowd to promote racism, death threats on innocent AMERICANS, I guess desperate times call for desperate messures, but that is no ‘True Leader’ in my mind. As a matter of fact the term ‘The Third Reich’ comes to mind when I think of her sitting in the White House. Scary stuff!

Posted by Scary times | Report as abusive

Of course they dont want the media to interview her supporters. they are all dumb racist rednecks who thinks Barack is terrorist

Posted by typical black guy | Report as abusive