Biden Staffer Forces Journalist To Delete Pictures and Search His iPhone After Maryland Speech

225px-joe_biden_official_photo_portrait_2-croppedRecently, I felt Vice President Joe Biden was unfairly quoted in a speech that he gave at the University of Maryland on domestic violence. I am less supportive however about what followed the speech. A Biden aide proceeded to threaten a student journalist about taking pictures of Biden and Dana Rosenzweig proceeded to demand that the student delete his pictures and show her his cellphone. While the Biden office has apologized to the university, it is unclear why this staffer still has a job after such a thuggish confrontation with a journalist. It is doubtful that she would have done this with someone from USA Today or the New York Times. The Biden staff have been accused of limiting press and interviews due to the Vice President’s reputation as a perpetual gaffe-machine in public comments.

Jeremy Barr is a credentialed student journalist from the respected Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. He had been snapping pictures of Biden and suddenly found himself facing an irate Rosenzweig. She reportedly demanded “Did you take any photos during the event . . . I need to see your camera right now.” She then made him delete his photos and to show her his iPhone to confirm he did not save any of the photos. Barr complied and neither Biden’s Press Secretary Kendra Barkoff not Rosenzweig would speak on the record after the confrontation.

It was not until a formal complaint was lodged by the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism’s dean, Lucy A. Dalglish that Biden’s office responded. Dalglish rightfully called the incident “pure intimidation.”

Barkoff later insisted to Dalglish (still not making any public comment) that the incident was a “total miscommunication.” Miscommunication? A miscommunication is sending press to the wrong bus. Forcing the deletion of photos and search a journalist’s iPhone is a bit more than a miscommunication. It is an act of intimidation and abuse. So why is there no confirmation of Rosenzweig being disciplined?  Even if this reporter was sitting in the non-press section, he identified himself.  Moreover, I would be equally upset with citizens being treated in this fashion.

Biden’s staff has previously been criticized for their efforts to protect him from the media, like locking a reporter in a storage room.

Frankly, I am bothered by any politicians banning photos and recording of public speeches.  This also includes justices like Scalia who use federal marshals against citizens and reporters.

Source: CBS

104 thoughts on “Biden Staffer Forces Journalist To Delete Pictures and Search His iPhone After Maryland Speech”

  1. Darren,

    Eh, not so much. It is my hope that ARE becomes fluent in English. I know that I know how the law operates. That is how I know he doesn’t.

  2. OS,



    “From murder, or killijng a person, to libel, to theft even, motive is a major factor in deciding what the crime is.”

    That just goes to show how little you understand the law, ARE.

    There are few areas of criminal law where intent matters and then it only matters to degree of charge and a commensurate differing degree of possible penalty. Most crimes don’t have a mens rea (guilty mind) component. Some crimes have both a mens rea and an actus reus (guilty act) component, like murder. Some crimes have only an actus reus component, like theft. The majority of core common law crimes (murder, manslaughter, arson, rape, theft, etc.) are considered to be malum in se. The actus reus is criminal in and of itself. Why you kill? Makes a difference only in what you are charged with. The primary distinction between murder and manslaughter is intent. Why you rape? Intent is irrelevant. It’s not an element of the crime. In contrast, crimes that are malum prohibitum usually involve conduct that is not considered self-evidently wrong, but is illegal for public welfare or regulatory purposes.

    1. I know that I am not a lawyer, but I do know enough to know that motive is a major factor in determining whether or not a crime has been committed in many cases and what that crime is. We can quibble over your use of the word most, but in killing a person, there are all kinds of jusitifications for doing so and that pertain directly to motive. Killing in self defense or the defense of the lives of others or their property in Texas is perfectly legal and is not a crime. As you state manslaughter and various degrees of murder have the mens rea component. I have personal knowledge that car theft has a mens rea component as well. A friend had their car stolen by an acquaintance, and it was reported as stolen to the police. The crook then returned the car on the ninth day to avoid the car theft charge. Had he been arrested before that, you think that he could use his intent as a legal defense against car theft? Or do you think the cops will wait ten days before arresting him? If I can think of these things off the top of my head and with no legal education, I am sure we can find other instances and cases. Once again, it was YOUR assertion that the photos were deleted because there was something on them that was damaging to Biden, and you have yet to own up to that inaccurate piece of logic.

  3. Gene I hope that you are not a lawyer given this statement.”
    Oh my.

    I expect shortly we will see the honey badger storming over the horizon.

  4. ARE,
    I base my reasoning on actual scientific research. Specifically, the laws of behavior and learning identified by the late Dr. B. F. Skinner at Harvard. Skinner was an experimental psychologist whose work with how learning takes place had already made him famous by WW-II when the military tapped him for a top-secret project in which he taught animals how to guide bombs to a target accurately.

    Skinner wrote about the roles of reinforcement, both positive and negative, in the role of learning an shaping behavior. What we have in the present instance is the opportunity so shape behavior by the application of aversive stimulus to an unwanted behavior. It works this way. No behavior is too small to go unnoticed. This was an unwanted, illegal and generally inappropriate behavior on the part of the staffer. Small, to be sure, but it is a golden opportunity for a teachable moment. By grabbing onto this and making it a big deal by outrage and going viral on the internet, the staffer is exposed to some seriously aversive stimuli. The next incident may not be so benign. However, that next time something like this happens, the person responsible is going to think twice about it. This is one of the ways an unwanted behavior pattern is beaten down. It may not eliminate it completely, but by now the Biden staff will have definitely gotten the message.

    Hopefully, Obama’s staff and those of other officials are paying attention.

    1. OS Good then I hope the staffer will simply call security to kick the offender out as you suggested. But I suspect Gene and the rest of the pack, will raise a hue and cry about that too as censorship and police state tactics.

  5. Gene I hope that you are not a lawyer given this statement.

    Their motive was beside the point of the censorship much like motive is beside the point in most legal violations.

    From murder, or killijng a person, to libel, to theft even, motive is a major factor in deciding what the crime is. That you can assert that it is beside the point in most legal violations is simply outlandish. Not only that but it was YOU who asserted the photos were deleted because they had something objectionable to Biden on them. I guess you forget your own words or will disavow them now. Your cudgel is more like a wet noodle, have at it.

  6. Gene,

    Shorter version:
    The “little bit pregnant argument” does not work for the First Amendment. Or the rest of the Bill of Rights when you get down to it.

  7. ARE,

    I strongly suggest that you learn some law because in order to steal something from someone, the person stolen from must have a possessory interest in what was stolen. Joe Biden nor his minion had a possessory interest in the pictures. No other journalists, student or otherwise, had a possessory interest in the location the pictures were taken from.

    I also suggest you learn how the burden of proof works in argumentation. The action of deletion was prime facie evidence that those in Biden’s camp wanted the photos gone. Plain and simple. Their motive was beside the point of the censorship much like motive is beside the point in most legal violations. The very act of forced deletion is – in itself – the censorship. I provided the definition of censorship. You obviously did not understand what the operative part of the action was by that definition: suppression.

    “an official [Biden’s staffer] who examines books, films, news, etc. [including photographs] that are about to be published and suppresses any parts [in this case by forced deletion] . . .”

    “Supresses” is a verb in that compound sentence. Verbs are action words. Action is what is at point here. Censoring isn’t about why. It’s about suppression; an action. The actions of Biden’s staffer. Why a censor censor’s is irrelevant to the action of suppression itself being improper. That is the heart of the contention and the core of the definition. By definition, what was done here is censorship whether you agree it is or not. It may be your opinion that it isn’t censorship, but that does not match the facts and, no, you don’t get to make up your own definitions to “win” an argument.

    However, you are the one who counter claimed with the issue of motive being an issue.

    When you make a counter claim, the burden of proof shifts to you. You didn’t prove motive. You simply said that I didn’t. And I didn’t. I didn’t need to. My proof of motive is immaterial because I never asserted motive as relevant. It is not an element of the crime so to speak. I asserted action taken proof on its face of censorship as evidenced in this case by the forced deletion of the photos. Too bad for you that you choose to base your counter claim on an irrelevant point. Not understanding the meaning of words and poor tactics does not win arguments.


    Is it censorship writ large? No. But it is censorship . . . by definition. In for a penny, in for a pound.

    As for the rest of your gibberish? It’s just that. Gibberish. Insult you? You started that fight. First in your response to LK and then in your response to me. I just finished it. If you don’t like being taken to task for using ad hominmen arguments instead of substantive ones? You’d best learn not to use them. I will cudgel you over the head with them when you do use them. I know. I’ve seen me do it before. I’m sure I’ll see me do it again.

  8. ARE
    Remember the old parable about the camel getting his nose in the tent?

    There is no such thing as an “unimportant infringement” of any part of the bill of rights. IMHO, it was a form of prohibited censorship. I fail to see how it couldn’t be. The government has been testing the limits of the Bill of Rights for longer than either of us have been around. Some of the most egregious were the antics of J. Edgar Hoover and Joe McCarthy. Then we move on to more modern times where we have military tribunals, indeterminate detention, torture, National Security Letters, and others too many to name.

    1. Since I have lived in those times you reference, I can say that things have improved FAR more than it was in the past. It is NOT now what I would like in many respects, but the FBI has been reigned in compared to what I personally experienced, Then I can recall the era of McCarthy when the US was a virutual police state and people were put in prison for their political views alone. Magazines and books were routinely banned, authors jailed, etc..Lenny Bruce wound up in jail for what he said in his comedy routines for heavens sake! The South was a political dictatorship with one party rule, and black Americans had no legal, moral, or civil rights at all. State sanctioned murder was routine there as well and in Chicago and other spots throughout the US too.

      So while I am opposed to many of the items you mentioned, it has not come close to what the bad old days were like for most Americans. As for camels, I have personal experience with them since I have ridden and tended them. They are not that intersted in getting into the tent or the barracks in my case. We had a hell of a time getting one into our barracks during a night drinking party at Incirlik AFB. The poor thing died about a week later and I hope that we were not the proximate cause of death.

      The point that we need to be vigilant about our liberties is a good and valid one,but we should not scream bloody murder every time some little petty incident happens as though a police state has arrived. I do not wish to be calling wolf every time we see a big dog.

  9. Gene, I suggest that you learn more English since it is entirely possible for you to STEAL a place in line, and in this case to STEAL a march on the competition.

    The fact that an agent of the principle threatened and then made the student journalist delete photos is prime facie evidence that someone under Biden’s control if not Biden himself considered the photos unacceptable and ergo against his interests.

    Then you go on to rant about my statement you lack logic,common sense and facts and then threaten and insult me. The very fact you could not answer the simple question as to HOW you get to leap to the photos MUST have been against Biden’s interest tell us all that you are in fact missing logic, facts, and common sense. You know or should know you cannot disprove a negative. Prove to me you did NOT cheat on an exam, prove to me you are NOT a pornographer, etc..In FACT since the student did NOT say he had some great discrediting photos of Biden, most reasonable folks would take that as a FACT that none were there. We do know that he was in the wrong place, and as a consequence, the staffer deleted his photos as a punishment. Now maybe the staffer should have done as OS suggested and escorted him OUT of the place, instead of deleting the photos. Which do you think the student would have prefered? Of course, you don’t think that there should be any consequences for breaking reasonable rules I imagine. All should be able to do whatever whenever no matter what, and any constraint is dictatorship.

    So give me more threats, names and turbulence. I have news for you, I am a lot bigger than you as some on this blog can attest to.

  10. ARE,
    The bottom line on any such action as the staffer took; it is not anyone else’s call regarding deletion of any photo or recording. I think everyone can agree the photos were probably crap, because most photos are.

    I keep all my old negatives in storage boxes. It is not the subject that matters, Those pictures are the story of my life, even though I am in very few of them because I was behind the camera most of the time.

    All my kids have emphasized to me they want all those thousands of negatives transferred to digital so everyone can have a copy. Crap pictures and all. My granddaughter is not working at the moment and has offered to do that job. She says she wants to see what I saw. For a young person, she has a remarkable sense of history. She says she wants to see my lifetime through my eyes. What was important enough to cause me to stop and make a record.

    My point is, it is not anyone else’s business to delete another person’s photos. There are a few exceptions, such as invasion of privacy, or if keeping a photo puts someone at risk. The First Amendment protects speech, and the press, no matter whether the subject is mundane, ignorant, or of earth-shaking importance.

    1. I think everyone can agree the photos were probably crap, because most photos are.


      I had to laugh at that one since it is so true, but I can recall when I was poorer with limited funds, I did the best I could with my 35mm since I had to pay for all those photos.Once again, I am sure Gene does not agree since he KNOWS the photos contained earth shaking matters by the fact that they were deleted.

      I can understand you view on deleting the photos, and I have to agree it was NOT a wise decision, but it hardly rises to the fact of police state censorship. In short, it is a tempest in a tea pot in the greater scale of other far more important issues.

  11. The underlying reason for the police taking away electronic photographs taken of them and this Biden staffer is exactly the same, they fear some form of harm or embarassment from them and/or they object to the person taking the photos and intend to deprive them in retaliation.

    The argument that it is not censorship because the photos were not reviewed and selectively deleted is not something I would care to provide the gov’t with. It’s directly akin to saying that the Ruskies were not censoring the newspaper when they sent the police to shutdown their operation.

  12. They don’t sit meekly in the closet. -Blouise

    No, they don’t. (Thanks for the smile this morning, Blouise.)

  13. Biden better get a handle on his staffers. A student reporter has the righteous indignation of his/her professor and Dean behind him. These are true believers who know how to make headlines. They don’t sit meekly in the closet.

  14. ARE,
    We are not talking about art or best angle. We are talking about recording history in the making, no matter what the circumstances, or the interplay of light and shadow.

    As for being an amateur photographer; I am a pretty serious amateur photographer myself. I have had a few things published. My daughter in law is even more serious, since she has done professional modeling and is as good behind the camera as in front of it. She regularly has her photographs appear in calendars. I mention that only to indicate I have a bit more than passing knowledge of the problems photographers face.

    It did not matter if the photographer’s photos are crap, or worthy of the front page of National Geographic. Recording history being made is important. It doesn’t matter if it was a picture taken by Matthew Brady, Joe Rosenthal, Pete Souza, or Jeremy Barr. Every photo/video of a pubic official at a public function or performing duties on behalf of the taxpayers is a bit of history that once destroyed, cannot be recovered. That includes ALL public officials, whether they are elected, appointed, or a government employee. That includes everyone from police officers to the President.

    We have had numerous discussions about police seizing cameras and SIM cards from private citizens who were taking their pictures and deleting the entire contents of the card. To be honest, I don’t see much difference. Even in cases where the picture taker might have been arrested justifiably for interfering with an officer, the pictures should remain in existence and not deleted. There may be exceptions to that, but they should be few. Pictures of undercover officers, informants, and which might endanger people should not be retained. There have been instances where law enforcement took a camera and insisted photos of undercover agents and confidential informants be deleted, but not other content of the SIM card. That appears to be appropriate behavior in the public interest.

    There is no reason to completely wipe a SIM card. I just looked at my camera and see there are a almost a thousand photos stored on the SIM card that’s in it now. I would be sorely pissed if some nitwit erased it.

    I accidentally erased a SIM card several years ago. It had 500 photo capacity and it was full. It had many dozens of photos of my son, my grandson and my wife, all of whom are now dead. Those are gone forever.

    If it were not a public function, then they should have the same right to a private life as everyone else However, there is no absolute right to not have your picture taken if you are in a public place.

    1. OS as usual I agree with most of what you said. As for this particular instance, while I think it was unwise for the staffer to do this, I cannot see it as outrageous as many do. If the card had as many photos as yours, then I too would be very upset at doing this. But we do not know, and absent any other info from the person concerned and lack of outrage at the deletion of personal stuff, I can only assume that was not the case.

      As for the historical import and importance of any and all photos, unless the reporter says that he had a significant photo that was deleted, I find it hard to be very upset since plenty of other photos were being taken and provide a large record for history. The historical record will not be poorer for the loss of the photos. Not all photos are equal in importance. Indeed it is an old legal trick to provide a MASS of info to hide important things.

      In the case of photographing cops doing their jobs, this is an entirely different thing for a host of reasons. One of them is the speech is a set affair with rules for all participants. Being out on the street in public view and business is a totally different scenario in which you have more liberty of movement and rights. Then there is the security aspect of a target being vulnerable and the need for control. The cops can and DO demand that persons keep their distance and obey their instructions so as to not interfere. That is not censorship nor an illegitimate function in that case. Failure to comply or presenting a threat to the officers, is a legitimate reason for arrest. Simply photographing cops is not a threat under any concievable circumstances except for the ones you pointed out. Another difference is that there are NOT hundreds of folks with cameras photographing the actions of cops. So the photos ARE rare and could indeed contain valuable evidence, which is why cops like to stop any recording of their actions. if there were hundreds of folks with cameras shooting, I doubt the cops would even bother.

  15. Bron,

    “was the kid on Bidens left or right? He must have a side he favors over the other. People do have a good side, maybe ole Joe is just vain”

    A fine example of an alternate root for something being considered politically unacceptable by the oppressor.

  16. ARE,

    “given the FACT that the jounalist himself makes NO such claim that he caught Biden doing something illegal, or embarrasing, ”

    Still making up definitions I see. There is no such requirement that the information be illegal or embarrassing in the definition of censorship just as there is no number requirement. Just politically unacceptable, something that can arise out of any number of considerations. If he’d snapped pics of Biden making out with an 18 year old girl, that activity on Biden’s behalf wouldn’t be illegal in itself but it would be politically unacceptable.

    “You lack logic, common sense, and facts.”

    Well at least I don’t make shit up to suit whatever argument I want to make because I’m too stupid to recognize outcome determinism in my own arguments, you ad hominem throwing douche bag. You’ve been warned off of that tactic once. Become persistent about it and you will eventually regret the consequences. Everything else you wrote in beyond that in that particular post is gibberish. Attack arguments, not people, or you’re going to have turbulence.

    The lack of logic, piss poor argumentation and distortion of facts here is entirely yours as illustrated by the wild gyrations you are making trying to define censorship as something it is not.

    Your next statement is no better.

    “in FACT something WAS stolen. He stole the place that others were denied which gave him an unfair advantage and place that was denied to others. It is like those who say that illegals who sneak across the border have not stolen anything or committed a crime. They HAVE stolen something that they have no legal right to have, the right to live and work in the US. Sorry, but that is wrong, no matter how you wish to excuse it.”

    Apparently you don’t know the definition of “steal” either.

    “steal /stiːl/, v. (past stole /stəʊl/; past participle stolen /ˈstəʊlən/) [in relevant part]

    1 [with object] take (another person’s property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it: dishonestly pass off (another person’s ideas) as one’s own”

    Nothing was stolen here by him being in the wrong place. The people he allegedly “stole” the spot from had no claim to it in the first place, ergo, they had nothing for him to steal.

    Also, illegal immigrants don’t steal “the right to live and work in the US”. If they did? They’d be citizens or legal immigrants. They’ve violated Federal law about entering the country and working here without permission, but they’ve taken nothing without permission or legal right and without intending to return it. Their violation is malum prohibitum (wrong because prohibited), not malum in se (wrong in itself). Theft is malum in se.

    You’re still not winning this argument on the merits.

    Try again.

    However, I’d suggest conceding that you don’t know what you are talking about at this point.

  17. Gene, in FACT something WAS stolen. He stole the place that others were denied which gave him an unfair advantage and place that was denied to others. It is like those who say that illegals who sneak across the border have not stolen anything or committed a crime. They HAVE stolen something that they have no legal right to have, the right to live and work in the US. Sorry, but that is wrong, no matter how you wish to excuse it.

  18. How come Biden gets picked on in this blog? He makes jokes. Go pick on Dick Cheney. He was a war criminal and remains at large. Pick on Dan Quail, he is still flying around. Biden will be running for President and this blog wants to ruin his chances. He is just biden his time. I would vote for him in a New York minute if I could pull the lever in that short of time. And dont think that dogs dont vote– particularly guide dogs.

  19. was the kid on Bidens left or right? He must have a side he favors over the other. People do have a good side, maybe ole Joe is just vain.

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