Campaign minders

CAMPAIGN MINDERS…. It was more than a little troubling when the McCain campaign decided it didn’t trust Sarah Palin enough to let her answer questions from the media. But it seems worse for the McCain campaign not to trust Sarah Palin’s supporters, either.

Constantly under the watchful eyes of security, the media wasn’t permitted to wander around inside Coachman Park to talk to Sarah Palin supporters. When reporters tried to leave the designated press area and head toward the bleachers where the crowd was seated, an escort would dart out of nowhere and confront him or her and say, “can I help you?” and turn the person around.

When one reporter asked an escort, who would not give her name, why the press wasn’t allowed to mingle, she said that in the past, negative things had been written. The campaign wanted to avoid that possibility on Monday.

Think about this — it was a public event in which a public official, seeking public office, spoke at a public park. Journalists, bolstered by the First Amendment, were told they weren’t allowed to talk to voters.

And the rationalization for this is that a political campaign wanted to stifle media access in order to ensure more positive coverage.

Unless there’s some key detail the St. Petersburg Times neglected to mention, this sounds quite a bit like madness.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.