Associated Press reporter Sara Kugler pounded out a 7-paragraph article today on how McCain running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), has "[Banned] reporters from meetings with leaders" from around the world. Palin is in New York City for the open of the United Nations General Assembly. A review of media coverage from Obama's behind-closed-doors chats with European heads of state, however, shows no such complaint by the media about a lack of access.
Kugler complained that Palin "has not held a press conference in nearly four weeks of campaigning, on Tuesday banned reporters from her first meetings with world leaders, allowing access only to photographers and a television crew." The reporter noted that her news agency objected to the terms of media coverage the McCain campaign set for Palin's meetings with Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai and Colombia's Alvaro Uribe (emphases mine):
Those sessions and meetings scheduled for Wednesday are part of the Republican campaign's effort to give Palin experience in foreign affairs. She has never met a foreign head of state and first traveled outside North America just last year.
The campaign told the TV producer, print and wire reporters in the press pool that follows the Alaska governor that they would not be admitted with the photographers and camera crew taken in to photograph the meetings. At least two news organizations, including The Associated Press, objected and were told that the decision was not subject to discussion.
Yet when Sen. Barack Obama went to Europe this summer and met with past and present foreign leaders, print media were similarly on the outside looking in. Obama met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former and current British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (respectively), and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Indeed, in the July 26 Associated Press article excerpted below, it's quite clear that the AP was not invited in to watch Obama's chat with Sarkozy or Brown. Yet no complaint was registered in the article about lack of access, and Obama's European tour as a way to "burnish" his foreign policy credentials was recorded matter-of-factly:
LONDON - Presidential contender Barack Obama defended his decision to travel to Europe and the Middle East on Saturday, saying that problems encountered by Americans at home are often best dealt with by working with allies overseas.
Obama, who spoke to reporters after wrapping up talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said he wasn’t sure if there would be any immediate political impact from the trip.
“The reason that I thought this trip was important is that I am convinced that many issues that we face at home are not going to be solved as effectively unless we have strong partners abroad,” Obama said.
Obama, a first-term senator, was on a tour designed to burnish his international credentials for the general election campaign against Republican rival Sen. John McCain. The trip began with a campaign-season tour of the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan and ended with meetings with old allies France and Britain. Obama returned to the United States late Saturday.
The Democratic hopeful seemed relaxed as he strolled down to the prime minister’s office at 10 Downing St., pausing briefly to shake the hands of two somewhat startled police officers standing near the door.
He turned to television cameras, smiled, waved and said “Hello,” before walking into Number 10. Brown greeted him just inside the door.
Pooled television images showed Brown offering Obama a chair on the Downing Street terrace before the pair settled down for two hours of talks.
The pair later took a stroll in the sunshine around Horse Guards Parade, the vast open space where military reviews are often held. Tourists snapped pictures while security guards walked ahead of the two men.
Obama arrived in London from Paris, where he met Friday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Obama and Sarkozy discussed Iran, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, climate change and other issues.
Speaking later Friday at a news conference, Obama said Iran should accept the proposals made by Sarkozy and other Western leaders. He urged Iran's leaders not to wait for the next U.S. president to push them "because the pressure, I think, is only going to build."