I deeply wish that I could say this story is “unbelievable,” but it’s becoming all too clear that even the most bizarre examples of assaults on press freedom are possible in Obama’s White House.
I admit I was not going to blog this at first because it was the British paper the Daily Mail that broke it, and I don’t regard them as a credible source, at least not without independent confirmation. But now we have that confirmation, via Jake Tapper of ABC News. He reports that a Biden staffer “apologized” for holding the reporter, Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel, in a storage closet for over an hour, but the apology is not an apology at all:
“Scott – You have our sincere apologies for the lack of a better hold room today,” wrote Vice President Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander last Wednesday to Orlando Sentinel reporter Scott Powers.
“Lack of a better hold room” is an interesting way of putting it. In order to keep Powers from mingling with guests at a Democratic fundraiser last Wednesday, Powers was escorted into a storage closet by a Biden staffer.
Powers was the designated pool reporter, there to record the proceedings for the press corps in general.
He told ABC News that he showed up at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday to cover Vice President Biden and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., attending a $500-a-head fundraiser at the Winter Park manse of developer Alan Ginsburg.
A young female staffer met him at the door and brought him to the storage closet.
“You’re going to have to wait in here until the VP gets here,” he says she told him.
“You’re kidding me,” he recalls responding.
Forcing reporters into closets is generally not the tradition of politicians in the US. Powers is a respected politics and business reporter who recently wrote about the Space shuttle Discovery coming home to Kennedy Space Center for the 39th and final time.
Making matters worse, Biden didn’t arrive until more than an hour later.
Continued Alexander in her email to Powers: “I am told, once the Vice President and Senator Nelson arrived, the situation was quickly rectified – and hopefully you weren’t waiting too long.”
Powers says the situation was never “rectified.” Any time he stuck his head out he’d been shooed back inside. He said he was held for more than an hour in the closet, was allowed out for 35 minutes of remarks by Biden and Nelson, after which it was back into the closet until the VP left.
Disgraceful, embarrassing, totally clueless.