Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Bush-Cheney '04 Guilty of Racial Profiling?

Here's a scandal that should be covered by the national media.

The Arizona Daily Star reported Saturday that Vice President Dick Cheney's staff insisted on knowing the race of a Star photographer, Mamta Popat. Cheney spoke Saturday in Pima County, Arizona.

The Star refused to provide the information. Journalists covering the president or vice president must undergo a background check and are required to provide their name, date of birth and Social Security number. The Star provided that information Thursday for Popat and a reporter.

A rally organizer, Christine Walton, reportedly asked Star managing editor Teri Hayt to provide the information. After Hayt refused, Walton called two other editors for the information, was rebuffed again, then reportedly called Hayt to say that Popat would ultimately be allowed to photograph Cheney.


One would assume such a scandal would make headlines nationwide. When local officials are accused of racial profiling, it is often a top story for newspapers, television and talk radio.

Not so with this story. After the Star filed its report, the competitor Arizona Republic did a story. Conservative blogger Matt Drudge picked up the story, but apparently it had no legs with the conservative talk radio crowd.

Is it possible the national media didn't hear the story? That would assume that the national reporters covering Cheney don't read the local papers. And that they don't read Drudge. And that the Star and Republic reporters, fresh from filing their stories, kept mum when talking with their national counterparts.

I don't buy it. I think the story didn't fit the "profile" of what the Republican Noise Machine wants in its Cheney coverage, and was quickly discarded. And a story that cries out for national coverage -- can you imagine of John Edwards' staff committed such absurdity? -- quickly fades from memory.

What is the Bush-Cheney '04 position on racial profiling? And was what happened in Arizona at odds with that position? I'd like to know, as I'm sure a lot of voters would.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just FYI- the reporter WAS ultimately allowed to photograph Cheney. see article below.

---Secret Service defends question for Cheney visit
Photog's race just 'personal identifier'
06:03 PM MST on Tuesday, August 3, 2004
By C.J. Karamargin / Arizona Daily Star

The U.S. Secret Service says the Bush-Cheney campaign's insistence on knowing the race of an Arizona Daily Star journalist assigned to photograph Vice President Dick Cheney at a Tucson rally Saturday was part of a standard security check and not racial profiling.

Race is a "personal identifier" needed to obtain accurate background information about individuals who will be near officials protected by the Secret Service, said Secret Service spokeswoman Lorie Lewis.

"We aren't using that information for profiling purposes. They are standard checks," she said Monday. "The Secret Service does not and will not tolerate racial or cultural bias."

Star Managing Editor Teri Hayt refused to disclose the race of Mamta Popat to a campaign worker organizing Cheney's rally at the Pima County Fairgrounds. A journalist's race, Hayt said, is "not relevant."

The campaign eventually backed down and Popat was allowed to photograph Cheney.

Campaign spokesman Danny Diaz said Monday that it is not campaign policy to ask for racial information. The worker who made the request, he said, was acting at the behest of the Secret Service. "We did as instructed," Diaz said.

The White House on Thursday asked news organizations planning to cover the vice president's trip to Tucson to provide the campaign with the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of its journalists. The Star provided the information for Popat and this reporter.

A campaign worker who called the paper Friday insisted on knowing Popat's race, telling Hayt the information was needed to distinguish Popat from someone else who might have the same name. Hayt said she had never been asked to disclose a journalist's race before.

Similar requests were made of the Tucson Citizen, KVOA-Channel 4 and KOLD-Channel 13, but not the Green Valley News. Lewis said she did not know why some journalists were asked and not others.

The Citizen was asked to disclose the race of photographer Jeff Stanton but not reporter C.T. Revere, said Senior Editor Jennifer Boice. The information was provided by a newsroom clerk, Boice said. "I would have been hesitant to provide that information," she said.

Brad Stone, a KVOA assistant news director, complied with the campaign's request to disclose the race of cameraman Devon Haskins. E.J. Junker, a KOLD assistant news director, said his station disclosed the race of cameraman Brad Boe.

12:30 PM  
Blogger David R. Mark said...

That's pointed out in my original item. But ultimately, that isn't the point of the piece.

Again, just imagine what the coverage would be if a John Edwards staffer made a similar request. It would be a top story for Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Neil Cavuto, and likely would be a hot topic for Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough and ...

1:08 PM  

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