Joan Walsh, liberal and sassy editor-at-large of Salon, thinks it was “dumb” when first lady Michelle Obama‘s handlers tried keeping reporters from talking to people at a recent campaign event in Wisconsin.
At the event — it was a rally held Monday for Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke (D) — present media were told they weren’t allowed to speak with any of the people in the crowd. (A stupid rule that no respectable reporter would ever honor.)
Meg Kissinger of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ranted about the rule on her Facebook profile and disobeyed it regardless.
“Well, sadly, that’s true, although it came from Team Obama, and I should say nobody kept me from interviewing the people standing near me,” Walsh writes. “The rule, usually tightly enforced, has been a staple of Obama rallies at least since 2012, and I’ve complained about it before.”
Walsh continues: “But it really is political malpractice. I was told on Monday it was a question of security, but I can’t understand how: Believe me, we got no special access to the First Lady – or to the president at any campaign event I covered – that would make it dangerous for us to mingle with the crowd (and theoretically make it easier for the crowd to get closer to the Obamas.) We were as far away from the stage as you could get. I would understand if this was a policy that followed the awful Secret Service breaches we’ve learned about this week, but it predates them, though it wasn’t true during the 2008 campaign. It seems like a dumb attempt at message control, and in my experience, it always backfires.”
[Photo via MSNBC/screen grab]
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