Monday, October 27, 2008

How Dare You Ask a Difficult Question!

So, some local reporter in Orlando had the audacity to ask Joe Biden some fairly pushy questions the other day. (You can see the full video, as well as links to some comments, at Instapundit.)

West wondered about Sen. Barack Obama's comment, to Joe the Plumber, about spreading the wealth. She quoted Karl Marx and asked how Obama isn't being a Marxist with the "spreading the wealth" comment.

"Are you joking?" said Biden, who is Obama's running mate. "No," West said.

West later asked Biden about his comments that Obama could be tested early on as president. She wondered if the Delaware senator was saying America's days as the world's leading power were over.

"I don't know who's writing your questions," Biden shot back.

The Obama campaign's response: You will get no more access to us. None.

Biden so disliked West's line of questioning that the Obama campaign canceled a WFTV interview with Jill Biden, the candidate's wife.

"This cancellation is non-negotiable, and further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best for the duration of the remaining days until the election," wrote Laura K. McGinnis, Central Florida communications director for the Obama campaign.

McGinnis said the Biden cancellation was "a result of her husband's experience yesterday during the satellite interview with Barbara West."

Now, I'm sure that the campaign members can interview or not with whomever they choose, and it really wouldn't bother me too much if they just canceled the interview with Jill. After all, she's just a spouse, and, by the standards of this campaign, a pretty boring one at that. (Quick, name one thing about Jill Biden other than the fact that her husband's on the VP ticket . . . yeah, that's what I thought.)

But the blanket "No Interview For You" statement should give us a major pause. True, there's no real "free speech" issue here- the First Amendment was certainly not violated, as I said, the campaign members can interview with whomever they want. But I think that we need to think about how the members of this campaign feel about people who ask tough questions. Will the Obama presidency limit their interviews to only those who they know will be friendly? Will those that dare to step out of line and ask tough questions about administration policy get punished by having their access cut off? Will this cause a chilling effect where journalists dare not risk asking any questions that might offend? Is this the kind of America that you want?

(Also posted at Unfair Doctrine)

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