According to the Fox News Channel, reporters from the Washington Times, New York Post and perhaps other conservative newspapers have been asked or told to remove their reporters from the Obama campaign aircraft…..
By The Washington Times
The Washington Times, which has covered the Barack Obama campaign from the start, was kicked off the Democrat’s campaign plane for the final 72 hours of the race.
The Obama campaign informed the newspaper Thursday evening of its decision, which came two days after The Times editorial page endorsed Senator John McCain over Mr. Obama. The Times editorial page runs completely independent of the news department.
“This feels like the journalistic equivalent of redistributing the wealth, we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars covering Senator Obama’s campaign, traveling on his plane, and taking our turn in the reporter’s pool, only to have our seat given away to someone else in the last days of the campaign,” said Washington Times Executive Editor John Solomon.
Above: Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill, talks on the phone aboard his campaign plane
“I hope the candidate that promises to unite America isn’t using a litmus test to determine who gets to cover his campaign.”
The Times formally protested the decision, noting that it has one of the top 20 largest newspaper Web sites in the country, distributes its print edition in the key battleground state of Virginia, and has had its stories repeatedly cited by Mr. Obama and other Democrats throughout the campaign.
“Sen. Obama himself demonstrated he appreciates the importance of The Washington Times and its news coverage. In June, he wrote a letter citing a Times’ investigative project that highlighted government mistreatment of our veterans. Sen. Obama requested an investigation by Congress and the administration, both of which confirmed the problems and led to corrective action at the VA. In his August acceptance speech, Sen. Obama also prominently mentioned our interview with Sen. Phil Gramm and the now infamous comments about a ‘mental recession’ and a ‘nation of whiners’,” wrote Mr. Solomon in an e-mail to Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.
Times reporter Christina Bellantoni, who has covered the Democratic campaign since 2007, is being asked to leave the campaign plane starting Sunday. In defending its decision, the Obama campaign said it respected Ms. Bellantoni’s reporting and simply ran out of seats on the campaign plane for the finale because of high demand. It also noted that the Obama campaign is allowing some news media critical of the Democrat to travel, including Fox News.
By Ben Smith, Politico
Obama spokesman Bill Burton confirms Drudge’s report that two right-leaning papers, the Washington Times and the New York Post, have lost their seats on the Obama plane, along with the Dallas Morning News.
“We’re trying to reach as many swing voters that we can and unfortunately had to make some tough choices. but we are accommodating these folks in every way possible,” he said.
The Post and the Morning News are both read primarily in states that aren’t in play, but the Washington Times is read in Northern Virginia.
Burton said the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times had returned to the plane, and confirmed that Ebony and Jet magazines have seats on the plane. (The Tribune has had a reporter on the plane for most of the cycle, but recently added a photographer.)
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd said in an email that, contrary to Drudge’s suggestion, she won’t be on Obama’s plane.
“I’ll be at Saturday Night Live covering Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin and possibly the real John McCain,” she said.
Burton said the campaign was making space for the dropped outlets on the campaign bus where possible, and that they were encouraged to travel with Senator Joe Biden. He also noted that Fox News, whose schedule includes perhaps the most openly hostile programming to Obama, has a seat on the plane.
McCain barred Dowd and Time’s Joe Klein, two columnists seen as leaning toward Obama, from his campaign plane, and space has grown very tight on Obama’s in recent days. But Obama aides have also been heard to complain about the coverage from the New York Post and the Washington Times, if not as vociferously as they have about Fox News’s coverage.
The Times took an ideologically-charged shot at Obama in response to its barring, a reminder of the political undercurrent to the choice.
From the Drudge Report
The Obama campaign has decided to heave out three newspapers from its plane for the final days of its blitz across battleground states — and all three endorsed Sen. John McCain for president!WASHINGTON TIMES and DALLAS MORNING NEWS have all been told to move out by Sunday to make room for network bigwigs — and possibly for the inclusion of reporters from two black magazines, ESSENCE and JET, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.
The NY POST,
Despite pleas from top editors of the three newspapers that have covered the campaign for months at extraordinary cost, the Obama campaign says their reporters — and possibly others — will have to vacate their coveted seats so more power players can document the final days of Sen. Barack Obama’s historic campaign to become the first black American president.
Some told the DRUDGE REPORT that the reporters are being ousted to bring on documentary film-makers to record the final days; others expect to see on board more sympathetic members of the media, including the NY TIMES’ Maureen Dowd, who once complained that she was barred from McCain’s Straight Talk Express airplane.
After a week of quiet but desperate behind-the-scenes negotiations, the reporters of the three papers heard last night that they were definitely off for the final swing. They are already planning how to cover the final days by flying commercial or driving from event to event.