The public and the press

Aug 29, 2018 by

There are few more sought-after politicians in the United States at the moment than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In June, at 28 years old, by making a play from the left, she pulled off a stunning primary victory over Joe Crowley, who had represented New York in Congress since 1999—first from the 7th district, then the 14th. Wherever she goes, Ocasio-Cortez brings a media deluge. A couple weeks ago, feeling mobbed by reporters, she decided to make two “listening tour” stops—one in the the Bronx and another in Queens, open to the public but not to the press.

The press ban, her campaign team told the Queens Chronicle, was meant “to help create a space where community members felt comfortable and open to express themselves without the distraction of cameras and press.” Corbin Trent, her campaign spokesman, said that this did not represent a new normal in meeting access. ‘’We’re still adjusting our logistics to fit Alexandria’s national profile,” he added.

On the same day that the Chronicle came out with its story, news organizations across the country published editorials about the importance of press freedom in the era of a president who goads reporters and undermines the role of journalism at every opportunity. Yet the visible erosion of political press relations with the White House is only part of the picture, and the friction is historic. President Richard Nixon’s frequent attacks on the press were more sustained and paranoid than Donald Trump’s. President Barack Obama, who has been vocal in his support of the free press once out of office, kept a tight rein on access during his time in office, and his administration pursued leakers through the courts at an unprecedented rate. In May, Bill De Blasio, New York’s mayor, was forced by Freedom of Information requests, brought to court by the media, to release emails in which he corresponded with strategic consultants about how best to sidestep the press. Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, is simply the latest offender.

Source: The public and the press – Columbia Journalism Review

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