McCain-Palin Camp Tried to Block Media Access to Palin in NY

By Jennifer Parker

Sep 23, 2008 12:09pm

ABC News’ Kate Snow reports: The McCain campaign tried to limit access to Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin today as she met with world leaders in New York.

For a time this morning, the McCain-Palin campaign refused to allow any editorial presence — no reporters or producers — to go with a network pool camera to take pictures of Palin meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

The McCain campaign eventually relented after the television networks threatened to ban and not use any footage of Palin meeting with leaders. 

Palin is scheduled to meet with Karzai shortly, followed by Uribe, and then with McCain advisor, Kissinger.

The networks had arranged for a "pool" camera — one camera to cover the first few seconds of the meetings, whose video would be pooled or shared with all networks.

Such arrangements are standard when dealing with intimate high-level meetings between leaders and candidates.

But typically, along with cameras, there is an editorial presence — at least one print reporter, one television reporter, and one radio reporter is standard.

However, today, the McCain campaign told media covering Palin’s trip to New York that they would allow only one editorial person inside.

Then the campaign scaled back further, saying it will only allow a camera and no editorial presence.

The networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox fiercely objected to the McCain campaign’s apparent effort to try to shield Palin from questions. Networks voted today, as a protest, to not use any video coming out of Palin’s meeting.

Palin has not held a news conference since being selected as McCain’s running mate, nor taken questions from her traveling press corps, frustrating journalists assigned to cover Palin for the election.

After the television networks strenuously objected to the McCain campaign’s effort to block any editorial presence from the room, the campaign finally allowed one CNN pool camera and one pool producer into the meeting room.

As she arrived for her meeting with Karzai, Palin avoided reporters who were camped out at the main front entrance of the hotel, instead pulling up in a motorcade to a side entrance and quickly sneaking inside.

Palin’s dance with the press continued during her meeting with Karzai. After being told that an editorial presence would be permitted in Palin’s meetings, pool reporters were asked to leave after the first 30 seconds, according to the pool report. Print pool and wires were not permitted in.

"The decision was made for this to be a photo spray with still cameras and video cameras only," Palin spokesperson Tracey Schmitt told reporters.

Reporters in the room for the brief period only heard Palin, who was accompanied by foreign policy advisers Steve Biegun and Randy Scheunemann, inquire about Karzai’s son.

The McCain-Palin campaign allowed a "full pool" into the meetings with Uribe and Kissinger, but the sprays were even shorter, and reporters heard nothing more than pleasantries being exchanged.

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