Presidential candidate Ron Paul has a somewhat strained relationship with news network CNN. Last month, he departed somewhat abruptly from an interview in which Gloria Borger grilled him about his newsletters. CNN proceeded to re-edit this interview to make it look like Paul stormed off the set in a huff, when in reality the interview was wrapping up.
Paul was nevertheless enough of a good sport to have another chat with CNN while campaigning in New Hampshire, this time with reporter Dana Bash. It did not go well. The New York Times surveys the journalistic carnage:
During a campaign stop here Monday morning, Mr. Paul’s staff abruptly cut off a brief interview with the CNN reporter Dana Bash when she asked about his ability to connect with voters in New Hampshire.
A top aide to Mr. Paul, Jesse Benton, could be seen — and heard — shouting at Ms. Bash as Mr. Paul walked away from Ms. Bash.
“This is junk,” Mr. Benton said. “We’re stopping.”
Wow. CNN probably won’t be using that sound bite in its advertising.
So what happened? It seems an Obama voter took to yelling at Paul’s SUV and demanding he come back to the diner he recently vacated, so he could talk with the woman and her mother. She professed to being open to voting for Paul, if she could have a few words with him.
Benton maintained that this poor woman and her mother only missed their chance to talk with his candidate because “a gaggle of cameras had formed around the candidate in the narrow restaurant, restricting his movements.” Small point of order, Mr. Benton: I believe the correct term for a group of reporters is not “gaggle” but “murder,” as in “a murder of crows.”
“You, the media, did this to her,” Paul sternly informed the CNN correspondent. “She should have been furious with you.” He then marched off to talk with Fox News, thereby increasing his audience by a factor of five.
This is not the first time a candidate has complained about the crush of reporters interfering with his campaign activities. Herman Cain actually requested Secret Service protection from reporters who were mobbing the candidate. (That was back in November. Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?) Some of these campaign venues are rather cramped. However, for some reason, journalist mobbing doesn’t seem to have been a big issue in most previous campaigns. Are there more of them, from more media outlets, running around in this campaign, or are they behaving more aggressively?
The Paul campaign released a statement, quoted by the New York Times, in which they pleaded for restraint:
In a statement Monday afternoon, the campaign said it was grappling with how to handle an onslaught of media coverage, especially from the foreign press. It offered a more detailed explanation of what had happened inside the diner, saying that the candidate had left early because more than 100 members of the news media had “created a mob-like atmosphere” that was unsafe. According to the statement, reporters at one point shoved Mr. Paul’s wife.
“We ask the press, at all upcoming events over the next day and a half, to be respectful of both Dr. Paul and of New Hampshire voters, who are entitled to examine their candidates in a safe and responsible atmosphere.”
There has to be some way of covering these candidates without actively interfering with their ability to campaign. No former Obama voter should be left behind.