Washington Times Excluded From Obama Campaign Aircraft: And Responds

Editorial
The Washington Times
November 1, 2008
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Reporter Christina Bellantoni of The Washington Times will be kicked off of Barack Obama‘s campaign plane starting Nov. 2, making it much more difficult to cover the candidate during the critical final days of the election. The Obama campaign insists that politics had nothing to do with it. We note that all three newspapers that had reporters booted from the plane — The Times, the New York Post and the Dallas Morning News — endorsed John McCain. An Obama spokesman insists that it is just a coincidence.

Aides to Mr. Obama told us Friday that the decision was made in part in order to accommodate his hometown newspapers, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, which have not traveled with the candidate very frequently in the past. They also claim that the decision to kick The Washington Times off the Obama plane could not have possibly been due to this newspaper’s endorsement, which was published Tuesday. The Obama campaign insists that it notified Miss Bellantoni on Oct. 25 that it might not have room for her on the plane. Miss Bellantoni protested. Later that day she was told that she could stay on the plane until Friday night. Starting Monday, Miss Bellantoni sought an update about her status each day until Thursday. That afternoon, while covering an Obama rally in Florida, she learned that effective Nov. 2, she would no longer be traveling on Mr. Obama’s campaign plane.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. ... 
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. boards his campaign aircraft at the airport in Columbia, Mo., Friday, Oct. 31, 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Upon learning of that decision, John Solomon, executive editor of The Washington Times, protested the decision to David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager. The decision “unfairly deprives her and this newspaper of the opportunity to cover the final 72 hours of a campaign that she has reported on with distinction from the beginning,” Mr. Solomon wrote. “Christina has traveled routinely with the Obama campaign from the start, pulled many shifts as the campaign pool reporter and been cited across the country for stories that were fair, balanced and insightful.” He also noted that The Times’ vast online readership places it in the Top 20 news sites in the United States. Moreover, Mr. Obama himself has recognized the importance of this newspaper’s work, citing two prominent examples: In June, Mr. Obama wrote a letter citing an investigative project by The Washington Times that highlighted government mistreatment of veterans. In his August acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Mr. Obama prominently mentioned this newspaper’s interview with former Sen. Phil Gramm, in which he referred to a “mental recession” and a “nation of whiners.” More than a dozen other Democratic speakers also cited that interview, “clearly demonstrating the far-reaching relevance and impact of our news coverage,” Mr. Solomon wrote in an e-mail.

Shortly afterward, Mr. Solomon received a reply from from Anita Dunn, senior adviser and chief communications officer with the Obama campaign, telling him that that the demand for seats on the plane far exceeded supply, and “for logistical reasons, we made the decision not to add a second plane.” Added Mrs. Dunn: “We have a huge amount of respect for the reporting of Christina Bellantoni and this decision is by no means a reflection on her.” In an interview Friday with The Times, Jen Psaki, press spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, reiterated these points and claimed the decision could not have been retaliation for The Times endorsement of Mr. McCain because Miss Bellantoni was notified last Saturday that she might not be able to stay on the plane beyond Oct. 31. Sure.

This argument, however, collapses upon closer examination. For one thing, there is no getting around the fact that all three newspapers kicked off the plane just happened to endorse Mr. McCain. Moreover, Mr. Obama’s supporters have been furious with The Times when it publishes stories that are not favorable to their candidate. One was an Oct. 10 report by Barbara Slavin of The Times about Mr. Obama’s efforts to delay signing an agreement with the United States on the status of U.S. forces in Iraq. Another was a piece by reporter Joseph Curl pointing to Mr. McCain’s role in mobilizing support for the Iraq troop surge, which Mr. Obama opposed. Viewed in this context, the Obama campaign’s decision to remove Miss Bellantoni smacks of being the latest effort by Mr. Obama and his supporters to retaliate against reporters that ask tough questions. After Barbara West, a reporter on WFTV-TV in Orlando, had the temerity to ask some tough questions to Joe Biden, the Obama campaign cancelled an interview with Mr. Biden’s wife, Jill. Obama supporters even called for Miss West’s ouster. After a reporter for KYW-TV in Philadelphia pressed Mr. Biden too forcefully on some matters, the Obama campaign said it would grant no more interviews to the station. When WGN Radio in Chicago announced it would interview Stanley Kurtz, author of several unflattering investigative pieces about Mr. Obama, supporters of the candidate flooded the station with telephone calls and e-mails demanding that Mr. Kurtz not be put on the air. It is a disturbing pattern. If this is how Mr. Obama acts as a candidate, how would he treat the press as president?

Miss Bellantoni doesn’t deserve this shabby treatment and neither does The Times. It would be wiser to resist the impulse to punish those who ask hard questions and wiser still to show more respect for the free exercise of the press.

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2 Responses to “Washington Times Excluded From Obama Campaign Aircraft: And Responds”

  1. goodtimepolitics Says:

    What do I see! I see a dictator that does not want the American people to know what he’s up to and next thing I guess is we will have Obama pictures at every street corner and on sides of building across this Nation. But it all is starting to look like Britain..with the government charging TV fees to pay for the government’s favorite news channel..like the BBC over their! I bet most Americans don’t know that in Britain that the people pay a fee just to own a TV set or it is illegal to have the TV set in their home where they’re watching it or not!
    Get ready for socialist government people if Obama wins this election! Better get out and vote and make your vote count for John McCain!

  2. Glen M Says:

    If Senator Obama wins this election, the following is what it has taken to get a very questionable, extremely inexperienced, very junior first time Senator past the mark:

    1. Senator Obama’s campaign is outspending the Senator McCain’s campaign 4 to 1 or more in some locations. This is due to Senator Obama backing out of an agreement he made with Senator McCain.
    2. Senator Obama’s campaign has opened up about 700 offices nation-wide versus less than 100 than Senator McCain’s campaign has opened up.
    3. The mainstream media has been completely biased against Senator McCain.
    4. Biased organizations, such as ACORN, have received contributions from Senator Obama, have been openly supporting Senator Obama, and are under investigation for committing voter registration fraud in multiple states favoring Senator Obama.
    5 An enormous number of biased celebrities have been supporting Senator Obama and speaking out against Senator McCain.
    6. Even though Congress is very unpopular, both sides are controlled by the democrats and have been making biased statements against Senator McCain.
    7. Senator McCain is disadvantaged because of the unpopularity of the incumbent President.
    8. All four of the debate moderators lean to the left and were not 100% fair.

    Even with all of the biased and unfair things mentioned above that are running against Senator McCain, Senator Obama only has a narrow lead. Should he not be way out in front? I have heard people state that on the news from both campaigns. That should tell you something. Also, Senator Obama pulled a cheap shot on Senator McCain and the American public in regards to campaign financing. Both campaigns agreed to use public financing during the presidential campaign. At the last moment, Senator Obama backed out of his agreement and took private financing, giving Senator Obama a significant advantage over Senator McCain in financing his campaign. In addition, Senator Obama is not being totally open as to where all his contributions are coming from. But even though Senator Obama took a sucker punch and tricked Senator McCain and all Americans by backing out of his agreement, Senator McCain is keeping with his word and using public financing. This is severely disadvantaging Senator McCain’s campaign financing by putting much lower caps on the amount of money he will have available. This is the reason Senator Obama can outspend Senator McCain 4 to 1. This also shows that Senator Obama does not keep his campaign promises, just like his past campaign promises.

    Just imagine what it will be like when you have both the House of Representatives and the Senate controlled by the democrats, and Senator Obama in the Whitehouse signing everything that comes across his desk from them. In other words, the person writing the check will also be the one cashing it. There will be no “checks and balances”, especially if the democrats pick up a few more seats in the Senate and it becomes filibuster-proof, which means they will have a monopoly. Again, there will be no checks and balances. We will have higher taxes, more government, and fewer rights. They have already promised all of those things. You will have a government that will tax the people that are creating the jobs so they can “spread the wealth around”. Who do you think creates the jobs in this country? Have you ever seen a business owned by a poor person? Are they the ones starting small businesses and creating jobs? Obviously not! So we have established the fact that the people that own the small businesses and create the jobs are NOT the poor. So lets talk about what is going to happen when they start taxing the people that do own the small businesses that create the jobs.

    So what do you think will happen when they start taxing the small business owners? First, jobs will be lost. They will not be able to afford to keep the same amount of people they have now – they will have to let people go. In addition, they will not be able to expand their businesses and hire more people. The second thing that will happen is that prices will go up. Do you think businesses will not raise the cost of their products and services to offset the extra taxes they have to pay? This should be obvious. The prices will go up on everything and will affect everybody – to include the middle class and the poor. When you go to the grocery store, the food prices will be higher. When you go buy a car, the prices will be higher. When you go to the department store the prices are going to be higher. Put yourself in the shoes of a business owner; if your expenses go up, would you not raise the price of your products to pay for them? Of course you would! And taxes are an expense.

    Now lets talk about presidential qualifications. When a federal employee or a member of the military has a need to have access to classified materials, they would need to get a security clearance. A security clearance attempts to certify that an individual is of high moral character and does not pose a security risk. If a federal employee or a member of the military admits to using a dangerous drug, such as cocaine, they will not be eligible for a security clearance. In addition, an admitted cocaine user would not be able to get in the military and if he or she is a federal employee, he or she would be moved to a position of lesser responsibility and not have access to classified materials. Senator Obama has admitted to using cocaine in his book that he wrote. As a candidate for president, should he not be held up to the same standards of a federal employee or a member of our military? As President, he is going to be exposed to an enormous amount of classified materials, have his finger on the nuke button, and be the commander in chief of the strongest military in the world. Would you not want someone in that position that can qualify for a security clearance?

    Another point I would like to make is in regards to Senator Obama’s experience, which is a drop in the bucket compared to Senator McCain’s. With the world and the economy in such a delicate position, I cannot imagine why anyone would not want the most experienced person in the Whitehouse. Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and even Senator Obama’s running mate, Senator Joe Biden, have made statements to the fact that Senator Obama is not experienced enough to be President and that the presidency is not the type of job for on-the-job training. They also said that Senator McCain brings a lifetime of experience to the table. Senator Obama’s running mate, Senator Biden, even said he would even be honored to run “with” his friend John McCain. These individuals are now claiming that they said that during the primaries when they were running against Senator Obama. Does that mean they were lying then, or now? Senator Obama claimed that he had more diverse foreign policy experience because he lived overseas as a kid. Living overseas does not give you foreign policy experience, unless you are an Ambassador, which he was not. If it did, then Senator John McCain would again best Senator Obama’s record since he has lived overseas being a member of the military.

    What issue or issues are you going to base your voting decision on? Will it be the economy? National defense? Education? There are so many out there. Because of the current economic situation, a large number of you are going to base your decision on who is best for the economy. I would hope that I have answered this question for you earlier on in this article. Such as pointing out which candidate has promised to raise taxes and spend more reducing jobs and raising the cost to live. But just in case I have not, I have a couple additional items for you to think about. If you look at all of the campaign promises on Senator Obama’s web site, you will see hundreds of them. How is he going to pay for them? I think I answered that already. But, if you add of the costs of all of them, mathematically it is going to cost us a lot more than he will be able to raise in taxes. So many of these are going to be just like so many of his previous campaign promises – they won’t get done. Maybe the economy is not the best issue to use in making a decision for president. What about national defense? In my opinion, if you don’t have a secure nation, the rest of the issues are moot. With Russia and China outspending us two fold to build up their military; with Iran and North Korea toying around with nukes and making threats; with Russia making friends and conducting military exercises not too far from our back door in Venezuela; with Russia helping Iran build nuclear processing material plants; and with the terrorist threat growing in Pakistan (a nuclear country), Afghanistan, Africa, and several other countries throughout the world, I want the most experienced and tested person in that office. Not some junior Senator that has absolutely no experience in national security. The economy is important, but national defense is a must. Remember, if our country is not secure, then the economy means nothing, our freedom is in jeopardy, and our lives as we know them today could easily be drastically changed in a moments notice. Just ask the citizens of the country of Georgia. One last point: Have you see who is openly supporting Senator Obama in the news? Iran and the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah have made public statements that they would prefer Sen. Obama to win. Go figure.

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