Biden: I'll Protect the Press, Even Though My Staff Locked a Reporter In a Closet

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Posted: May 03, 2020 3:55 PM
Biden: I'll Protect the Press, Even Though My Staff Locked a Reporter In a Closet

Source: AP Photo/Chris Carlson

The Biden campaign on Sunday released a statement honoring journalists for their work to keep Americans informed on "World Press Freedom Day." He also used the opportunity to punch back at President Donald Trump for claiming the media is the "enemy of the people" and his use of the term "fake news."

"Today is World Press Freedom Day – a day to recognize the vital importance of journalism to upholding free and open democracies, both here at home and around the world. It's also a day to honor the journalists who dedicate their lives to advancing media freedom, at times braving immense pressure, sacrificing livelihood or liberty, or even facing mortal danger to bring the truth to light," Biden said in a statement. 

"... A free press is essential to a free society. Tyrants know this all too well. That is why attacking the press and attempting to intimidate independent media is a standard part of the authoritarian playbook," the statement read. "And, it's why Donald Trump's repeated efforts to demonize the media put us on such a dangerous path. When he labels the press as the 'ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE' or decries 'FAKE NEWS,' he is eroding our essential, Constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press in ways large and small."

According to the campaign, President Trump continually "bullies and berates" reporters as a means of deflecting from his "failed leadership." Biden said that although most presidents are unhappy with reporters digging to get the facts, none have "attacked the independence of journalists and launched an all-out assault on the media" the way Trump has.

The former vice president promised to hold regular "fact-based" press briefings from major departments and agencies and "restore a relationship with the independent press that is grounded in mutual respect" should he win in November.

While all of that sounds fine and dandy, Biden seems to forget one thing: back in 2011, Scott Powers, a reporter for the Orlando Sun Sentinel, was locked in a storage closet during a fundraiser. The goal was to keep Powers from talking with people before the vice president showed up. 

Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander responded at the time by saying it was an "unfortunate mistake of an inexperienced staffer and the vice president's office has made sure it will never happen again." 

According to a spokeswoman, Powers was put in a so-called "hold room," which is a place for reporters to work while part of the press pool that covers the vice president. Although Powers was provided with a table and chair to work, Alexander agreed that "a hold room should not be a storage room."

At the time, the Sun Sentinel said Powers was ordered to stay in the storage closet until Biden took the podium to address high-dollar donors. A Biden staffer stood outside the room to ensure Powers stayed in place until Biden was on stage. 

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