Florida WFTV-Channel 9’s Barbara West thought that she was using her five minutes with Sen. Joe Biden to get at the toughest questions being raised by critics of the campaign. None of the usual softball, scripted questions in the video below. The choice reportedly resulted in the campaign canceling future interviews with the station. Blacklisting is a Nixonian trick and not something that most modern campaigns openly embrace.
West raised Sen. Obama’s comment about spreading wealth. That fact is that the comment is part of a variety of statements from democratic leaders connected to the campaign, including Biden, indicating that the Democrats intended to use their prior pattern of tax increases as a core agenda item. Indeed, a recent video show Obama using the expression in a 2001 radio interview on a failure of the Supreme Court. West asked why spreading the wealth does not make you a Marxist. Right subject, wrong delivery.
Biden was right to respond “Are you joking? No.” It hardly makes you Marxist to want higher taxes, though it does raise a legitimate issue as to the philosophy of the campaign in a still fiscally conservative country.
West then asked about Biden’s latest gaffe about Obama being tested by the foreign countries — a comment that played directly into the untested claims of the McCain camp. West again took the question a step too far and asked if Biden was saying America’s days as the world’s leading power were over. Once again, it was not the best framing of a valid question. Biden responded by stating “I don’t know who’s writing your questions.”
For the video of the interview, click here.
Instead of shrugging off the questions as awkward, the campaign went out of its way to cut off the entire statin and make it clear that it was being punished. It canceled an interview with Jill Biden, stating in a letter from Laura K. McGinnis, Central Florida communications director for the Obama campaign:”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.” So not to leave anything to speculation, McGinnis wrote that the cancellation was “a result of her husband’s experience yesterday during the satellite interview with Barbara West.”
Even if you were ticked, how dimwitted is it to send a letter telling every journalist that the campaign is now punishing anyone who asks irritating or unpredictable questions? This should be treated as a serious problem by the campaign and the decision reversed. It is hard to claim to promise a new open and transparent government when you are blacklisting media.
For the full story, click here.