Tallahassee Democrat senior writer Stephen Price was singled out and asked to leave the area reserved for media at a rally for John McCain in Panama City, Florida, on Friday. He had showed his media credentials and employee i.d. in order to enter the area when a member of McCain's security detail asked him to leave.
"I explained I was with the state press, but the Secret Service man said that didn't matter and that I would have to go," Price said.
When another reporter asked why Price was being removed, she too was led out of the area. Other state reporters remained.
Price was the only black reporter among those surrounding McCain's bus ... was he being "profiled"?
Tallahassee Democrat Executive Editor Bob Gabordi said the incident was unwarranted.
"We're deeply concerned and disturbed that our reporter — of all of those in that area — was asked to move," Gabordi said. "My understanding is that Stephen was the only reporter approached and asked to leave the area, and the only reporter in that area who is black. Another reporter who stood up for Stephen was then asked to leave."
Jonathan Block of the McCain campaign, who was not there at the time of the incident, expressed regret, but stated,
"I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that race had nothing to do with it."
Block said the area where Price was standing was restricted to members of the traveling national press corps that accompanies McCain on the campaign trail.
Wow. Really. There's this story line going around that McCain loves to be "unscripted" and was always wandering into unprepared situations, giving the impression of "getting down to the people." Why was the black man singled out? And then why was the other reporter ousted for defending him? Why couldn't they simply tell them right then and there that this area is restricted to press that travels with McCain, if that was, in fact, true???
I'm sure McCain really needs this sort of stuff to keep those "swing voters" wondering. First, he backs a bill in Arizona that would wipe out affirmative action as "quotas", a "reverse racism"-style proposition, to coddle the right-wing racist White First bloc. Then he accuses Obama of racism for mentioning in passing something that could be construed to mean Obama is black. And if McCain infers that he is older, we're supposed to accuse him of "age-ism", right? Now, his security detail is weeding out "suspects"??
And this isn't the first weird incident with McCain's security. Here you can check out how they kicked a librarian out of a public rally for holding a McCain=Bush sign, and charged her with trespassing.
The event, at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, was billed as 'open to the public.' Yet Carole Kreck, a 61-year-old librarian carrying a 'McCain=Bush' sign, was taken away by police [on orders from McCain's security detail] for trespassing. A police officer told Kreck:
'You have two choices. You can keep your sign here and receive a ticket for trespassing, or you can remove the sign and stay in line and attend this town hall meeting.'
Kreck received a ticket for trespassing and her court date is July 23.
Security trumps free speech. Security trumps reporters' access to a candidate. Dissent and being a person of color seem to always land in the world of "security risk". One of the Republicans' biggest ticket issues is "increase Security." It plays to fear. It plays to the military. But, as this incident is a small but notable example, it doesn't play to our higher goals of fairness, openness, and actual freedom (not rhetorical "freedom" as in "freedom fries"). For McCain, it's a pattern he can't break free from. For the rest of us, it's an election we must weigh in on, in historic numbers, for the other, security-by-freedom, not security-vs-freedom, side.