Missouri State University no longer has the only authorized tape of former Attorney General John Ashcroft's recent speech there, according to an article in today's Springfield News-Leader:
Ashcroft's contract did not allow the media to make an audio recording of his speech, although the same restrictions were not placed on the audience.
The archival audio recording was made, but Ashcroft's representatives said it could only be accessed in the school's library by "current students and faculty," even though the library is open to the public.
MSU attorney John Black said the university could not abide by that restriction.
"If that condition cannot be met," Black wrote in a letter to the Harry Walker Agency, which books Ashcroft's appearances, "the recordings should be returned to your office on behalf of Mr. Ashcroft."
University officials made the proper decision. Now they need to make sure that no contract of that kind is ever signed with anyone who appears on the taxpayer-supported campus. No matter what negative concept some people have about the media, they are the conduit through which most people find out about newsworthy events. Ashcroft's restrictions were not only ridiculous for a speech being given at a taxpayer-supported university, but they are also somewhat paranoid.