Friday, May 29, 2009

So Much for Freedom of the Press – Georgia Ethnic Newspaper Journalist Physically Removed from Obama Presence - Opinion


Pro-Choice Catholic Journalist Removed by Obama Security Detail -AP Photo, NBC Affiliate


The Reverend Brenda Lee , a Catholic, African-American Journalist, was physically removed from a press area, while waiting for Air Force One to arrive. Brenda Lee writes a column, “The Birds Eye View” for the African-American Newspaper, The Georgia Informer. The report, from LA News, an NBC affiliate, described Ms. Lee as a “reporter for a small newspaper”, who was removed because she wanted to hand Obama a letter, asking him to “take a stand on traditional marriage”.

Apparently, Ms. Lee was first escorted away from the Press Area by the Secret Service, then allowed to return under conditions that she not “yell or wave”, however, another security team forcibly removed her.

First, it should not matter what type of newspaper, or media one works for, in fact, local community and ethnic papers are the lifeblood of many communities – not, perhaps, as grand as the local daily paper, should there still be one, but more in tune with what is happening in that particular community, giving the readers local coverage, and in some cases, opinion and coverage on state and national issues - they can often be apolitical.

Secondly, the woman, a professed Catholic, was penalized because she wanted to hand a letter, first to the Secret Service detail, who refused to take it, and then directly to the President, not a staffer to whom she was referred. Frankly, she was in the press area, she was surrounded by not only Secret Service, but by another security outfit and she identified herself. The fact that she was first allowed to stay and then removed, because she wanted to hand a letter, to the President, an act that would have taken 5 seconds, seems ridiculous. Where was the harm in allowing an African American woman Journalist, from an African American Publication in Macon, Georgia, to hand the President a sealed letter?

Perhaps with the emphasis on domestic terrorists, Ms. Lee may have been on some watch list, as a potential threat due to the fact that she is also a Catholic and pro-Life.
Her last column, , a Mother’s Day missive regarding traditional values, asked that the President appoint a “God Fearing” Judge, rather than one more liberally inclined. The African-American community (which this blog hates to pigeonhole, as we are all American’s, should we have legal citizenship, and therefore, the designation of ethnicity and race, in every facet of American life, lends to a separation , not inclusion into American Culture, leading to bigotry and racial tensions. The language is to keep in context with the original story, however, one feels somewhat hypocritical in doing so.) is, for the most part, conservative regarding social issues, like so many other “ethnic groups” that adhere to Christian principals. Those that would dismiss the overly enthusiastic Catholic, pro-life, pro-marriage, journalist from a small newspaper in Macon Georgia, would do well to remember that not all journalist and newspapers (regardless of size) are staffed by the “elite” East and West Coast brand of progressives who hold themselves above the “masses” who they feel are, unfortunately, unable to form an opinion. Although this woman does not meet certain elite criteria, she certainly meets the criteria of “American Journalist”, and therefore, should have been treated with respect.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should really read all of the facts before you write. First, with Air Force One in the background it seems hard to believe that she was waiting for it to arrive. It was actually ready to leave. Second, A self described "Catholic Priestess" that lives in Anaheim, is hardly a local voice for an obscure monthly newspaper in GA and hardly deserving of the "White House Credentials" she claimed, thirdly, NO ONE is allowed to run up to the president to hand him anything, why should she be any different. And last, again the race and gender card was all you had to play, soooo sad. If she wants to have press credentials she has to abide by the rules that go with those credentials, she broke the rules and being a African American Female does not give her any special attention of exceptions.

And, while I am anti-gay marriage, her position is one of misguided hate and is well out of line with the church she claims to represent.

This woman asked for and deserved the treatment she received.

Tina Hemond said...

Just to correct you:
From the original story:
A reporter for a small newspaper was forcibly removed from a press area near Air Force One shortly before President Barack Obama arrived at Los Angeles International Airport to depart California early Thursday.
Therefore, Obama had not yet arrived, according to the report which I based my opinion piece on - the fact that she is hardly a voice for that "obscure" monthly - is on your part - insulting - (could be your Los Angeles state of mind) - It may not be the LA times, but regardless, it is a newspaper. How dare you assert that the only journalists that are worthy of press credentials are those that work for your words "non-obscure" papers? There was no mention of her intention to "run up to the President" - not sure where you got that - Also on race and gender card - I was pretty specific regarding how I personally feel about that whole thing - well, not gender, I belive there is more discrimination against women (see Hillary Clinton for example) than any specific race/ethnic group.

Read the original article, which was easily accessed and referenced by my opinion piece prior to posting - obviously Anonymous

Christian K. said...

I think that it's odd that people are associating the events with a) the content of the letter, b) with the tagline: 'so much for freedom of the press.'

The content of the letter itself has nothing to do with why she was removed. In her interview she consistently talks about how no one had the right to read the letter, and she doesn't need Secret Service people telling her where to go. Sort of sets up a challenge - their job is to make sure they know where everyone is and that they are behaving predictably. And it should be!

Freedom of the press doesn't mean that those in the press can physically be anywhere, do anything. They are allowed near the plane - great. But ultimately, there are rules - there are not many people in the world that get to hand the US President a sealed letter. If she wanted the opportunity to do it, she needs to follow the rules - go to the person she's directed to, let them read the letter/check the envelope, etc.

She is free, however, to write and talk about her treatment, or her views in general, as much as she wants.

The "what's the harm" argument is a slippery slope.

I think this whole thing is overblown, but I feel the need to post since I feel like people are attaching political static to a much more benign, but significant issue. Our President - no matter what party affiliation - should be protected in a fairly consistent manner.

Just a suggestion to your readers: if you get the chance to be near a US President and you'd like to say something to him/her or pass them a letter, maybe your best bet is to respond to the requests of the people who are in charge of their protection. If they can't figure out what you're trying to do, odds are you won't be allowed the chance to do it.

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