NORMAN, Okla. — Corralled like protesters in a so-called “First-Amendment zone,” the press covering former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s visit to Norman, as part of her tour for her book Going Rogue, were not even allowed inside the Hastings book and music store prior to the governor’s visit.
When this reporter attempted to pass through the metal fence to go into the store, just as other people were doing, a young woman of about 20, who wouldn’t identify herself, said media was not allowed inside. This young woman was very rude, as was an older man wearing OU gloves who was also pushy.
Agreeing to remain in the corrall, awaiting the arrival of the Palin, the press were shabbily treated by the Palin advance team. And the few times someone working for Palin came up to give the press instructions, the music being played by some guy kicking a soccer ball around was too loud for anyone to hear anything.
While Palin was expected at 6 p.m., her bus did not arrive until well after 7 p.m. and she did not speak as we were told she would. No explanation. She merely exited the bus with her young son Trig in her arms and quickly went inside. The press was then kept outside for another 15 minutes before we were allowed in in shifts, where we could only take still pictures or some video. No questions.
Red Dirt Report, a sister site to Oklahoma Watchdog, did get a story out of the event but the experience was less than optimal. Palin’s publicist and entourage were not particularly helpful and seemed even disdainful of the press. This could be due to recent reports that Palin is being tightly controlled by her handlers and that she is not talking to the press and not allowing fans to ask questions. A report out of Minnesota says that “only English-speaking press” would be allowed to cover her tour, although this was spun as being a simple misunderstanding.
Once inside the Hastings Norman store, and out of the cold, the press was allowed only pictures. Of course her many fans were excited to get her autograph in their copies of Going Rogue.
After a few minutes the press was hustled back outside.
The experience left this watchdog wondering why Palin – who claims to be a folksy, woman-of-the-people – would not be more accessible? Sure, there are elements of the mainstream media that truly despise her, but they’re largely on the coasts and in big urban areas. This reporter, who personally likes Sarah Palin and her stances on many issues, was rather surprised and disappointed by the experience, particularly when reporters were told she would speak and then didn’t say anything.
More of the story here
About the author: Andrew Griffin is the editor of reddirtreport.com and oklahoma.watchdog.org