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Corbett Presser Rules Panned

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Governor Corbett is taking heat from the press today, after another incident in which his staff limited access to a press conference.

“That said, the Corbett administration’s latest (did we say cynical?) move to bar the public from press conferences just isn’t bad policy or hypocritical — it’s dumb,” said Tim McNulty of the Post-Gazette, in blunt, editorial style uncommon for the Early Returns blog.

John Micek of the Allentown Morning Call notes that at least one person was actually turned away from yesterday’s supposedly public conference.

Yesterday’s story originally reported by the Inquirer’s Amy Worden.

“Reporters today were surprised to be greeted by two uniformed guards demanding press badges at Corbett’s press conference on nuclear fallout from Japan’s damaged reactors reaching Pennsylvania.”

This follows an incident last week when a Democratic staffer was initially denied access to another press conference.

According to the veterans of Harrisburg reporting, this is a new precedent for PA governors. As they recall, no one was barred from conferences with former Govs. Tom Ridge and Mark Schweiker.

“Nobody was ever turned away,” said Gov. Rendell’s former spokesman Chuck Ardo, which goes without saying. To put it delicately, Rendell was eager to talk to the press.

To insert PoliticsPA’s own editorial two cents, it’s unclear what the Corbett folks hope to achieve by barring members of the public from press conferences (that are aired on television). And whatever the aim, one has to wonder if it’s worth all the bad press that results – especially given his campaign’s emphasis on transparency.

2 Responses

  1. I was similarly escorted from Budget Secretary Zogby’s presentation in the Capitol Media Center on budget day. It’s not just the governor hiding from the citizens. It’s the entire administration.

    I’m trying to recall whether this sets a record for the earliest disaffection with a new governor. It didn’t take long with Rendell either, but then Rendell didn’t campaign on transparency and integrity.

  2. There’s nothing wrong, from a security standpoint, with checking credentials at the door of a Capitol press conference. But, as reported, banning attendance based purely on political persuasion, or point of view, is a profoundly wrongheaded practice. As a former press secretary (to the Pennsylvania Attorney General during the Thornburgh administration), and a former print and broadcast journalist, I’m expecting an official explanation (not called an “apology”) that includes throwing a gubernatorial staffer (in the name of heightened security concerns) under the bus. I cannot imagine what would have happened during, let’s say TMI, if we posted a bouncer at the press-conference door (which was perpetually open), checking opinion-based IDs. Actually, I can. And it wouldn’t have been pretty.

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