In the last several minutes, Norm Coleman’s campaign has denied access to Minnesota Independent and The Uptake, two local journalism organizations hoping to cover the senator’s much-anticipated 10:15 press conference.
When last seen, The Uptake was the only organization in the state providing a live video feed of the first U.S. Senate debate last Sunday. It has also dutifully provided full, live, unedited video of Minnesota congressional debates.
While the Uptake and Minnesota Independent are undeniably left-favoring organizations, they are members of the Society of Professional Journalists and subscribe to its ethics code.
As you can see from the videos below, Coleman staffers would not give any objective reason for blocking Minnesota Independent managing editor Paul Schmelzer:
Uptake videographer Chuck Olsen describes his exclusion here:
A DFL Party video-tracker — who produced the extremely embarrassing video of Coleman spokesperson Cullen Sheehan stonewalling on the “Suitgate” issue two days ago — was also barred.
The exclusion of a non-journalist tracker from a press conference — while petty — doesn’t rise to the “what have you got to hide?” level of excluding press from a press conference.
As with the debate, the Uptake would have provided the only live, unedited broadcast of the Coleman conference — an undeniable public service.
The Uptake notes it has been credentialed for John McCain campaign events and Olsen has attended Coleman press conferences before. The Uptake and Minnesota Independent were both refused credentials for the Republican National Convention, but earned major media recognition for the video and demonstration stories they produced.
A question we’ll all digest in the coming hours is: who should be allowed to a candidate’ press conference? If you’re partisan or ideological in any way while still upholding journalistic principles, should you be excluded?
Thought experiment for DFL partisans: how would you feel if a right-wing blogger showed up with camera in tow and started asking Al Franken toughies? Thoughts and exclusion examples welcome in the comments section.