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February 16, 2005
The Party Of Media Silence

Howard Dean started his reign as Democratic National Committee chair in style today -- silent-movie style, that is. Dean demanded a media blackout of a debate he held with Pentagon advisor Richard Perle, much to Perle's surprise:

"DNC Chair Howard Dean has declared a news blackout of his appearance and requested the media not quote, record, and/or paraphrase his remarks," event coordinator Gabrielle Williams wrote in an e-mail sent to news agencies Wednesday morning. "We apologize for the late notice, but we were just informed of this request."

Less than two hours later, Williams called to say: "We were told just a few minutes ago that it is now open" for media coverage. The decision to open Thursday's debate came roughly 30 minutes after an inquiry by The Associated Press.

What gives, Chairman Dean? Perhaps a bit of reluctance to face the press from the new head of the Democratic Party, or just flashbacks to his disastrous performance at the Iowa Caucus debates, where Al Sharpton effectively killed his presidential campaign. For those who may have forgotten, Sharpton skewered Dean on his record of hiring African-Americans as advisors in Vermont, where African-Americans account for less than half a percent of the population.

Whatever the reason, the former governor must have had his reasons for keeping the press away from a public debate with one of the leading so-called "neocons" at the Pentagon. Perle, however, had no idea that the Democrats had such fear of the Fourth Estate. Apparently, it's not just Perle that Dean fears, but all of his public events:

Perle said that he was surprised to learn that the press had been barred from covering the debate.

"It seems quite extraordinary that the chairman of the Democratic National Committee would not want the public coverage of this debate," said Perle, a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

Don Walker, president of the Harry Walker Agency, which represents Dean on the lecture circuit, said that many of the talks it is associated with are closed to the press and it's up to the individual speaker to decide whether he or she wants them to be open. "We default to a closed press policy," he said.

Do Democrats support the idea of the free press and transparency in government? The standardbearer of their party -- the man they just elected to stand up to the GOP and rebuild their momentum after three straight election-cycle losses -- can't even speak publicly on the record. It appears that their concern over transparency and free speech only applies to the lesser lights, while the Democratic leadership needs to keep their new main man out of the papers.

Do you think Democrats wonder why? Yeaaargh!

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 16, 2005 10:42 PM

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Tracked on February 17, 2005 8:14 AM

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