Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The arrogance of Ashcroft

As I have noted in two earlier posts, former Attorney General John Ashcroft is speaking tonight at Missouri State University and the gutless wonder who formerly served as our state's governor, has it in his contract that no videocameras or recording devices can be used.
He has graciously deigned to allow the university to make an official recording, which as Professor Andrew Cline points out on his Rhetorica website, doesn't help the hard working folks in Springfield's broadcast media much, or for that matter, any print reporters who would like to back up their notes with the recorded version of the speech:

Restricting and avoiding the press are popular tactics of message control. What we too often forget is that any tactic that restricts the press also restricts citizens who may wish to gather information for themselves.

So Ashcroft will speak tonight on the MSU campus, but the press may not use electronics to capture the speech. The (incredibly silly and condescending) reason given: He and the promoters don't want a "media circus" to mar the event.

(BTW, how will this restriction be enforced? The N-L story says part of the money raised for this event pays for security. Are we talking campus police? On duty? Off duty? City police? State police? Local goons? What?)

I claim this restriction has nothing to do with any circus and a lot to do with the need for plausible deniability as part of effective message control. Want to avoid a circus? Don't take questions from the press. And Ashcroft says he won't. I have no problem with that. But why deny print reporters the use of digital recorders? What is it about this small, hand-held device that would cause a media circus?

Perhaps Ashcroft is attempting to avoid any of the YouTube type problems so many politicians are faced with these days. After all, at this point he has been plagued with several, including the many appearances of the Singing Senators since one of Ashcroft's fellow performers, Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, had his bathroom incident in Minneapolis.

Quite frankly, the type of "wide stance" taken by Ashcroft during his MSU visit has the capacity to do more damage to our open way of government than anything Senator Craig did and the hypocrisy is just as great.

1 comment:

E said...

Solid post, Randy. I have never understood differentiation in forms of media. I remember (then vice-president) Dan Quayle dissing the print journalists and only talking to TV reporters on a visit to the Joplin airport many years ago. It seemed unfair then; it seems stupid now.