Expect to see more of this if Republicans win in 2010.
Republican candidates feel they are beholden to no one. And really, they’re not. After all, the money that supports their campaigns is not grassroots money, but corporate. It’s the money of a few rich white guys who feel privileged above the “inalienable rights” we supposedly all possess as Americans.
President Bush was like this too. He was impatient of questions. He didn’t like answering them at all. John McCain took it to a new level, however. McCain wouldn’t even let questions be asked. Now we have Republican candidates ducking interviews and debates or declining to appear on any network save FOX News and refusing to release required information on personal or campaign finances.
When questioned, Republican candidates adopt the role of victims, pretending that a liberal media elite is engaging in a witch hunt. They are creating a narrative in which the asking of questions is demonized. Even asking a question of them is wrong, an attack.
Doesn’t it sound like they’re just a little too sensitive?
Now we have another escalation of this tendency, and it’s a disturbing one. A reporter being roughed up and put in handcuffs for trying to ask Tea Party luminary a question. The victim here (we should be clear at the outset who the victim is) happens to be a reporter from the Alaska Dispatch. His crime? He tried to question Senate candidate Joe Miller.
Here is the video from the Anchorage Daily News:
According to Politico, Joe Miller “announced last week that he would no longer take questions about his past employment and personal history.” Apparently, other subjects are forbidden as well.
Isn’t that what journalists are supposed to do? Ask questions?
Remember, FOX News doesn’t have reporters. Their definition of a reporter is someone who reports the company line in sound bites. Don’t ask questions; just believe.
Sunday night in Anchorage we saw something ugly. Something that ought to disturb all of us. Tony Hopfinger was trying to do his job. He asked Miller if he had gotten in trouble for playing politics while employed by the Fairbanks North Star Borough in 2008.
Mr. Miller’s response? Two security guards, Miller’s hired-thugs, bumped chests with the reporter in an effort to intimidate the journalistic integrity out of him and impress upon him the Republican way of doing business.
Mr. Hopfinger was pushed against a wall and handcuffed.
Just like that.
For asking a question.
He didn’t threaten Mr. Miller. He didn’t point a gun at him.
Hopfinger said, “It was like a car accident and I had to ask, ‘How did this happen so quick? Why am I in handcuffs.’”
The Miller campaign response was to release a statement made by William the security guard who did the intimidating.
“The Dispatch reporter repeatedly pushed a camera into the face of Mr. Miller. He continued to aggressively pursue him. I told the reporter several times that he needed to stop and that he was trespassing. He ignored me. He then proceeded to stalk Mr. Miller and even shoved an individual into a locker. Based upon this trespass and his assault, we detained him and escorted him from the premises.”
Miller himself, quick to identify the constructed Other as the problem, dismissed Hopfinger as a “liberal blogger”:
“While I’ve gotten used to the blog Alaska Dispatch’s assault on me and my family, I never thought that it would lead to a physical assault,” Miller said. “It’s too bad that this blogger would take advantage of a ‘Town Hall’ meeting to create a publicity stunt just two weeks before the election.”
CNN reports that Hopfinger told them that “he did push the security guard after he said he was pushed.”
Thank goodness for the police, who responded and removed the reporter’s handcuffs, and promised to investigate.
The “private person arrest” is legal in Alaska, according to police. That doesn’t mean it’s justified. What is clear here is that Mr. Miller does not like questions and he responded by silencing the questioner by the surest means at his disposal.
Hopfinger expressed his disbelief, saying, “Joe Miller wants to be a U.S. Senator and he is going to have it a hell of a lot tougher with journalists in the beltway than he is with local media,” Hopfinger said. “I was just doing my job.”
But in Republican America you can’t do your job, Mr. Hopfinger. You’re a dinosaur. The GOP does not want journalists, it wants propagandists. Toe the line, say what you’re told to say, and never, ever, ask questions.
It might expose to the light of day something a Republican somewhere would just as soon remain in the dark.
Image Courtesy of Jill Burke of Alaska Dispatch