Where's the piety about freedom of the press now that Beto O'Rourke has kicked out a reporter?
After Democrats made a huge stink about President Trump for kicking out news reporters from press conferences, a weird silence descends as Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke not only kicked out a senior Breitbart editor, Joel Pollak, from one of his events, but threatened him with arrest.
According to Breitbart News:
O'Rourke, who has lauded himself as a champion of a free press, had Breitbart News's Senior Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak removed from his event at Benedict College Tuesday, with a member of his campaign claiming that Pollak had been "disruptive" at past events — an assertion that is patently false.
Here is the backstory:
This reporter has covered two O'Rourke events. The first was at a protest outside a shelter for migrant teens in Homestead, Florida, in June; the second was at the College of Charleston "Bully Pulpit" lecture in Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday evening. At no point was there any disruption whatsoever.
This reporter asked a question during a press gaggle on Monday evening; that was the only interaction of any kind with the candidate.
The question asked the Democratic presidential hopeful whether misquoting Trump's comments on riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 was consistent with O'Rourke's pledge to "heal" and not "inflame" divisions in this country.
In the hallway at Benedict, "Steven" threatened this reporter, saying that I could either leave voluntarily or be "officially uninvited" from campus, suggesting arrest.
This reporter complied with the police officer, who said that he was just doing his job.
A threat of arrest for not leaving? What a socialist-coercive impulse we have going on here from this vaunted Democrat.
The thing is, I don't believe for a minute that Pollak ever was disruptive at a press conference. Pollak is an experienced and senior figure, for one, and moreover, he has a record of writing effective and persuasive columns using precise citations of facts and reason rather than rhetoric. This isn't a greenhorn getting thrown out for not knowing what the rules are, nor a screaming polemicist. Unlike CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, who manhandled a White House staffer and got ejected from the White House press pool for it, or Univision biggie Jorge Ramos, who couldn't stop interrupting other reporters at a Trump campaign stop, and also got the boot, at least briefly, Pollak did nothing to merit getting thrown out and threatened. His only "crime" seems to be that he was effective.
This was too much for Beto, a former hacker whose campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz in 2016 drew glowing media coverage and is premised on his histrionics.
All of this is about par for Beto, whose presidential campaign is flailing now as more intense and substantial leftists take the lead. Of course he'd want Pollak out. Pollak quotes him, and for Beto, that's enough cause for worry about embarrassment.
But where is the press to stick up for Pollak?
Where's Columbia Journalism Review, which, back in 2017, was thundering against Trump with statements like this?
[Trump's] invective and the administration's actions barring certain news organizations from briefings will just embolden state and local officials to restrict press access based upon the perceived viewpoint of the coverage. This is exactly what the First Amendment was established to protect against.
All I see on their front page now related to politicians and the press is an op-ed by Bernie Sanders giving his "plan" for the press (a five-year plan, Berns), which ought to give any reporter the willies. This:
Walter Cronkite once said that "journalism is what we need to make democracy work." He was absolutely right, which is why today's assault on journalism by Wall Street, billionaire businessmen, Silicon Valley, and Donald Trump presents a crisis — and why we must take concrete action. Real journalism is different from the gossip, punditry, and clickbait that...
It's hard to prove a negative, but I don't see any defense of Pollak's right to cover Beto from the newsie bigs on Twitter, either. I don't see any pieties about threats to freedom of the press; I don't see any warnings that Beto is an enemy of a free press, which is pretty well what he is demonstrating. Either a free press applies to everyone or it applies to no one. The press that fails to stand up to Beto's egregious violation of free press is displaying a double standard. Perhaps even more than Beto, who piously claims to be a champion of a free press, it's hypocrisy showing.