Thursday, January 31, 2008

Listen, Do you want to know a secret, Do you promise not to tell, whoa oh ... oh no!

[Meghan O'Sullivan] President Bush's former deputy national security advisor, had been contracted by the [Student Alliance for National Security] to speak Tuesday at the Indiana Memorial Union. O'Sullivan had planned to lead a discussion with students and members of the public about recent gains made in the Iraq war.
What, they couldn't get an expert on the subject!? But seriously folks, it was open to the public, at a public university, mainly paid for by student fees. WTF!?

And either all the members of the resulting press quoted and saw everything wrong, or the organizers and their faculty adviser, (ex-CIA agent Gene Coyle) just plain lied.

Lie number one:
For about half an hour afterward, O'Sullivan, student group members and their faculty adviser, Gene Coyle, stood in the back of the auditorium. Several cell phone calls were seen to be made. Coyle and others were observed speaking to Indiana Daily Student reporter Elvia Malagon. IU student and [Student Alliance for National Security] Adam Newman took the podium to announce there would be a delay because of issues with the IDS and whether the talk could take place 'off the record.'

Around 7 p.m., Coyle took the stage to announce that the talk would not take place. 'Dr. O'Sullivan is taken ill and is in the bathroom in a very poor state,' Coyle said. He also said that O'Sullivan only agreed to come to IU if she could speak off the record.
So, is it only me or does it seem like quite a coincidence that she got 'sick', just as soon as she realized her remarks about how most excellent things are going in Iraq might be made public?

I don't blame her, it makes me sick too.

Lie number two:
Event organizers said this type of request is typical and said they were disappointed in what they called the press' lack of professionalism.
Plainly untrue. There is nothing typical, or even precedented, about a public university using public money holding an event open to the public barring the press from reporting on it.
Malcom A. Glenn, president of Harvard’s student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, said he was not aware these types of presentations went on at the university, but said reporters at his newspaper would not concede to requests for off-the-record presentations.
Larry MacIntyre, IU’s assistant vice president for University Communications, said he’d never heard of something like this happening at a college campus.

In addition, University Chancellor Ken Gros Louis said denying press access to a public event “goes against the grain of what a university is.” He also said that, in his 43-year tenure at IU, he cannot remember a situation like this occurring.
Reporters are citizens too. And in today's world where we have citizen journalists, blogs, camera phones, iPod recorders, where does one draw the line between 'press' and 'public?' I draw the line the same way that judges already have. There isn't one.

Not to mention that whole US Constitution thingie about a free press and free speech.

Lie number three:
[Miles Taylor, director for the Student Alliance for National Security] was also upset that IDS staff members waited until five minutes before the event began to say they wouldn't accept O'Sullivan's request.
Really, 5 minutes!? Then why would ex-CIA agent Coyle say:
SANS’ faculty adviser, Gene Coyle, said via e-mail that he had been trying to find out from the university all day Wednesday about if or when a speech or lecture could be delivered as “off-the-record.”
When I first heard about this event I wondered why don't just plain folks record the audio and video and put it on the web.

After the story broke I wondered why would the IDS reporter even asked for permission? I appreciate that she stood by her guns against the personal and professional attacks she endured then, and even more that have resulted.

But why even ask?

My advice to the reporter: it's easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission. You would better have served the public by doing so.

That said; this was a college student on a college newspaper, trying to do her best, trying to report on an important story. And she did it better than almost all of the DC press do covering the White House.

If I was her journalism teacher? I'd give her a 4.0
She faced down an ex-CIA agent, a White House adviser and hostile students that she has to continue to go to school with. Wow, talk about a tough crowd.

And we'd never have known about it if she hadn't reported it.

She gives me hope about the future of the 4th estate.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak