Freedom of the Press in the Land of Palin

I'm interested to know what you think after reading the following caption from a picture taken on the campaign trail in Alaska:

Alaska Dispatch founder and editor Tony Hopfinger sits with his hands cuffed in a Central Middle School hallway after being arrested by private security, left, while he was trying to ask U.S. Senate Republican candidate Joe Miller questions as Miller was leaving a town hall meeting on Sunday. An Anchorage Police Department officer, second from right, gathers information from the scene.

I don't know about you but this just plain pisses me off.  A private security detail "arresting" a reporter doing his job.  Thankfully other reporters were there covering the event, and this NPR story provides an overview:

The editor of Alaska Dispatch, was grabbed, handcuffed, and detained by private security guards working for Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller at an election rally in Anchorage, Alaska. Tony Hopfinger was trying to interview Miller after the event when the guards grabbed him, handcuffed him and held him in a hallway for about 30 minutes. They told him he was "under arrest." And they threatened other journalists with the same treatment if they spoke with Hopfinger.

From the Alaska Daily News who also had a reporter there:

The editor of the Alaska Dispatch website was arrested by U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller's private security guards Sunday as the editor attempted to interview Miller at the end of a public event in an Anchorage school…

Hopfinger has not been charged but the owner of the Drop Zone, the private security firm that's been providing Miller's security, accused Hopfinger of trespassing at the public event, a town hall sponsored by the Miller campaign. The owner, William Fulton, also said Hopfinger assaulted a man by shoving him…

Hopfinger, who was holding a small video camera, said he was attempting to draw out a statement from Miller on why he was disciplined by the Fairbanks North Star Borough when Miller worked there as a part-time attorney. After Miller walked away, Hopfinger said, he was surrounded by Miller supporters and security guards and felt threatened, so he pushed one of them away.

Fulton said the man shoved by Hopfinger was not hurt…

One of the guards grabbed Hopfinger's video camera. Later, Hopfinger said that when he got the camera back, the segment covering the span of the arrest was missing. An Anchorage police officer offered to take the camera into custody and have it examined in the crime lab to investigate whether evidence had been destroyed, but Hopfinger declined. He said he needed the camera and the remaining video for his work.

While Hopfinger was still in handcuffs, the guards attempted to prevent other reporters from talking to him and threatened them too with arrest for trespass. A Daily News reporter interviewed Hopfinger anyway. No other reporters were arrested, though a few shoving matches and chest bumps ensued as the guards attempted to cordon off Hopfinger and block photographs and videos from being taken of the bizarre school scene.

Is it just me or are we living through the looniest political season in modern American history? 

4 thoughts on “Freedom of the Press in the Land of Palin

  1. Paul Jones

    Unfortunately the inmates have control of the asylum. We can only hope cooler heads and common sense can be returned to the halls of government. How much of a public voice do we need to use to get the message out?

    Reply

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