Romenesko picks up on the apparent irony nestled in a Boston Globe piece on a Mitt Romney event held yesterday in Washington. The story noted that reporters listening to the Republican candidate address the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs, were disinvited from the room once it came time for the unscripted portion of the event (Q&A):
Romney stayed to take questions. But following his 28-minute address — held at the Newseum, which is situated between the US Capitol and the White House — reporters were escorted out of the room and weren’t allowed to listen to the questions.
The twist in this tale comes from the backdrop, as the Globe’s Marty Baron notes on Twitter:
Press escorted out of #Romney event at, of all places, #Newseum. 3rd from last graf: boston.com/politicalintel... @BostonDotCom
Hold that irony order, however. Cathy Trost, vice president of exhibits, programs and media relations for Newseum, says that the Business Roundtable event was a private affair. “They were renting conference space for a program that they held,” says Trost, adding that the expulsion of the reporters was “not in the public museum space.”
Another blow to the delicious story line comes from the Los Angeles Times, which notes that the room-clearing move also took place when President Obama addressed the Business Roundtable’s executives.
A reporter on the scene notes of the post-ejection scene: “The Romney staff, from our view through a glass door, seemed to be aggressively searching the area where we had all been for tape recorders and any electronics . . . but we are routinely kicked out of fundraisers before the Q and A session begins and I am told Obama has done the same.”
Word is that the eviction wasn’t the idea of the Romney people, but rather of Business Roundtable. Tita Freeman, senior vice president of the group, confirms via e-mail:
That is standard practice for Business Roundtable meetings. Our meetings are closed press and off-the-record so we can have a candid dialogue on pressing issues. We have only deviated from this a handful of times when a sitting President or candidate for office has preferred to give open-press remarks at our events. For both President Obama in March and Governor Romney this week we have closed the meeting to press after the opening remarks.
What a convenient policy for Romney, Obama and the nation’s business leaders. Wonder if either of the campaigns fought to allow the media to stick around for the Qs and the As, perhaps lecturing the Business Roundtable on how important a free press is to our democracy. To that question, Freeman responds: “I don’t know the answer to that. It’s our meeting — the BRT’s — so I presume they respected our protocol.”