Wednesday, October 26, 2005

U.S. NEWS/HARVARD/BP BAN REPORTERS FROM FIRST AMENDMENT ROOM

WASHINGTON, D.C., OCTOBER 25, 2005

This morning, at the National Press Club, U.S. News and World Report held a press event to announce the release its list of “America’s Best Leaders 2005.”


The event was co-sponsored by the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.


And it was paid for by the oil giant BP.


We saw a notice of the event on the National Press Club’s web site.


At the appointed time, we went over to the First Amendment Lounge to attend the event.


C-Span was covering it (Brian Lamb was chosen as one of the “best leaders” – as was Roger Ailes of Fox News, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell – among others.)


So, we show up at the door to attend and are met by James Long, the man who organized the event for U.S. News and World Report.


Long tells us that we are not allowed into the press briefing.


Why not?


“Well, on all the notices, it said RSVP.” Long said. “And you didn’t RSVP.”


We didn’t see anything about RSVP. But okay, we’ll RSVP now.


“No you won’t,” Long said. “You are not allowed in.”


We’re members of the National Press Club.


And we understand the policy of the Press Club – he who rents the room rules.


So, if BP, and Harvard University and U.S. News and World Report rent the room, they decide who attends.


But the question is why?


Why, when all the press in the world were allowed in, we were not?


Well, it has to do with the last U.S. News and World Report event we attended at the Press Club earlier this month.


It was titled “Corporate America and Congress: Has Sarbanes-Oxley Restored Investor Confidence?”


And in an article published two weeks ago in Corporate Crime Reporter, we described how that event was paid for by Altria.


Altria?


A tobacco company paying for a conference on social responsibility?


That’s what we wanted to know.



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