The event is free, and open to the public. It is open to print media, but not television or radio.
According to Dr. Olen Greer, a professor in the School of Accountancy who is helping host the event, Ashcroft specifically requested that no videocameras or recording equipment be allowed into his speech.
"Pencil press is fine," Dr. Greer said. "The public is invited to ask questions, but press may not," he said.
"John said it would be ok for the pencil press to report the event, but not participate in it--they may not ask any questions," according to a note written by Emily Broeman, Ashcroft's manager for speaking engagements.
Dr. Greer said he was hoping broadcast media would cover the event. "I'd like you to cover it, what we were hoping for is an opportunity to publicize this conference we are having. But these are the rules agreed to in our contract with Mr. Ashcroft," Greer explained.
I am amazed (but somehow not surprised) that event organizers have the nerve to beg for coverage of the event when they are telling the broadcast media it cannot do what it needs to do in order to provide adequate coverage of it.
As for Ashcroft not answering questions from the media- he never did. I had the opportunity to interview him several times and cannot ever remember him answering a straight question. If his point of the day was "We must stay the course and reduce taxes," and I asked him, "What are we going to do about increased crime in Missouri?" he would answer "We must stay the course and reduce taxes."
My suggestion to the broadcast media would be to ignore Ashcroft and report on news that actually means something to your viewers.