Park Police 'Cop a Plea' on Media Brushback of Gay Protest, But Media Blackout Follows
On the PostPartisan blog, openly gay Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart reported complete regret over yesterday's Park Police brushing away of media outlets trying to cover a tiny gay-left protest against "Don't ask, don't tell" policies in the military:
"The Park Police screwed up," David Schlosser, the public information officer of the U.S. Park Police, said as he immediately threw himself on his sword after I asked, "What happened yesterday?" What happened was that six protesters urging President Obama to repeal the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military chained themselves to the White House fence and were arrested. What also happened was that reporters were shooed away from the scene, blocked from covering the story. A big mistake that has caused the White House some grief with the media and with the gay community.
How much grief in the media? The Washington Post -- on paper and online -- offered no news story on the incident. Neither did the Associated Press, or National Public Radio, or other major newspapers or TV networks. That's why Capehart was linking to the Gay City News.
CBSNews.com has a story on the Political Hotsheet blog -- but notice that Brian Montopoli didn't get into the media-shooing component isn't noted until the second-to-last paragraph. This is a little strange considering Montopoli was a media blogger for the discontinued CBS news-accountability website Public Eye.
It can obviously be argued that a protest by six gay activists chaining themselves to the gate outside the White House is a threadbare excuse for a news story, especially when it's been done before, and just about a month ago. But one might expect the media to report journalists being told to back away, back away from a story, no matter how small. It's quite possible the "media" in this case were not major media. The first reporter you see in the video is also featured in the Gay City News picture above, appearing to be quite supportive of the protesters' message.
Capehart continued with the apologies:
"It really sucks when we drop the ball," Schlosser told me. "We have to explain ourselves. We owe it to the public. We owe it to the press. And we owe it to the White House." Such honesty and willingness to accept full responsibility left me speechless.
Capehart advised the gay protesters to take their please-arrest-me tactics over to Capitol Hill: "change the scene of action from the White House to the Capitol. Repeal of don't ask don't tell requires congressional action. And nothing says 'Listen to me!' like civil disobedience in the office of the Speaker or the Senate Majority Leader."