Lex Alexander, who sometimes comments at this address, takes note of this story in the WashPost, about the Secret Service’s creative new approach to obnoxious but nonviolent hecklers at Bush campaign events, which apparently involves removing women by their hair, among other things, and includes this chilling paragraph:
One uniformed Secret Service agent complained to a colleague that “the press is having a field day” with the disruption — and the agents quickly clamped down. Journalists were told that if they sought to approach the demonstrators, they would not be allowed to return to the event site — even though their colleagues were free to come and go. An agent, who did not give his name, told one journalist who was blocked from returning to the speech that this was punishment for approaching the demonstrators and that there was a “different set of rules” for reporters who did not seek out the activists.
Lex wrote to Romenesko about it, and since he doesn’t permalink individual letters, I’m just going to paste it here. I don’t think anyone will mind:
TO: U.S. news media
FROM: One of your own
DATE: 10 September 2003
RE: that story
Folks, this is gut-check time. If we, with our massive presses and our tanker-trucks of ink and our big honkin’ Apache Web servers and our 1,800-foot sticks with directional signals and our high-dollar white-shoe law firms on 24/7 retainer, do not put a stop to this kind of illegal behavior now, what hope have Joe and Jane Citizen who have wandered off to a campaign event in the na�ve belief that officers of the government will not obstruct their efforts to exercise their First Amendment rights? A 30% pretax profit margin carries with it certain obligations, and for our industry, this is about as big as an obligation gets.
I’m just sayin’.
Yeah, Lex, me too.