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‘Pure Intimidation’: Biden Press Secretary Apologizes After Staffer Goes Gestapo On Journalism Student

March 15, 2013 by  

‘Pure Intimidation’: Biden Press Secretary Apologizes After Staffer Goes Gestapo On Journalism Student
UPI
Vice President Joe Biden

Joe Biden has issued an apology through his press secretary following an ugly incident in which a credentialed journalism student was rousted to surrender photos he had taken of the Vice President at a domestic violence speaking engagement in Rockville, Md.

Jeremy Barr, a student journalist attending the Tuesday event, was there on behalf of the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, covering featured speakers including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Biden.

Barr was reporting for the university’s award-winning, student-run Capital News Service; and he had received full clearance to cover the talks.

But after Barr (along with others in the general audience) took some iPhone pictures, Biden staffer Dana Rosenzweig confronted him and began putting the clamps down.

Barr had sat inadvertently in an area of the venue not designated for the press, although he observed that there was no obvious demarcation separating regular guests from those there to cover the event. At any rate, it was one of the staffers who directed the badge-wearing journalist to take his seat among the general audience in the first place. Also, the law allows anyone — regular citizens or members of the press — to take pictures of government leaders in public.

[The staffer] asked, “Did you take any photos during the event?” Barr said. He told the staffer, yes, he had taken a few photos.

She said, “I need to see your camera right now.” Barr said. The staffer called Barr’s presence in the non-press area an “unfair advantage” over the other members of the media at the event.

The staffer then requested to watch as Barr deleted the photos from his camera to ensure his compliance, Barr said.

After deleting the photos from the camera, the staffer asked Barr to show her his iPhone to make sure no photos were saved. Barr complied.

“I assumed that I’d violated a protocol,” Barr said. “I gave her the benefit of the doubt that she was following proper procedures.”

Barr was then asked to wait while the staffer contacted her supervisor. After approximately 10 minutes of waiting, the staffer made contact with her supervisor, apologized to Barr for the delay and permitted him to leave the venue.

Journalism School Dean Lucy Daglish went full Doberman in a letter to Biden’s press secretary that same day, saying Rosenzweig’s behavior was “pure intimidation” and a violation of every citizen’s 1st Amendment principles — one that wouldn’t have been out of place in a “third-world country where police-state style media censorship is expected.”

Biden press secretary Kendra Barkoff refused an interview with Capital News Service, but phoned both Daglish and Barr separately to apologize after Daglish filed a formal complaint.

Barr told the university newspaper he was glad the matter had been resolved. Daglish noted Barr has a right, under the law, to sue if he chooses.

“This was pure intimidation,” Dalglish said, adding that “it’s clear from the circumstance that the journalist did nothing wrong.”

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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