"Hello, 911? This is the Dede Scozzafava campaign. Could you send a police car over to the Elks Lodge? There is a reporter here asking our candidate uncomfortable questions. Thank you."
Something like this call went out last night when a reporter committed the "high crime" of asking Republican congressional candidate, Dede Scozzafava (endorsed by the Daily Kos), questions that she obviously felt very uneasy about answering. Scozzafava, who was recently the subject of an Open Thread here on NewsBusters, is running in the special election for the open seat in the NY 23rd congressional district. She was being questioned last night by John McCormack of the Weekly Standard when the police were called with a complaint about him for making Scozzafava uncomfortable with his probing questions. Here is how McCormack describes the scene:
Tonight, Dede Scozzafava, the Republican candidate for the November 3 special election in the 23rd congressional district, spoke to about 100 Republicans at the Lewis County GOP dinner at the Elks Lodge 1605. After a dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, Scozzafava fended off criticism that she wasn't as conservative as third-party candidate Doug Hoffman and urged her supporters to vote for her in order to keep her Democratic opponent Bill Owens from serving as a rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama's agenda in Washington. It was a fairly typical evening--until the speech ended and someone with Scozzafava's campaign called the police. On me.
Uh-oh! McCormack continues to regale us with his "criminal" activity:
Earlier today Lindsay Beyerstein reported that Scozzafava responded to an AFL-CIO questionnaire by saying she would support card-check legislation that eliminates the secret ballot requirement for organizing unions. As Beyerstein notes, this contradict statements made by a Scozzafava spokesman in September.
So after the dinner, I asked Assemblywoman Scozzafava if she supports card check. "Yes, yes I do," she replied.
Eek! How dare McCormack ask questions of a candidate! An attempt was made to stop this criminal activity but it seems to have failed:
At that point someone from her campaign placed himself between Scozzafava and me and told me I should direct all my inquires to the campaign's spokesman. I nonetheless asked Scozzafava if her signing of the Americans for Tax Reform pledge not to vote to raise taxes means she would oppose any health care bill that raises taxes. "What kind of taxes?" she replied. Then another couple of gentlemen interposed themselves between Scozzafava and me as Scozzafava headed for the door.
McCormack later continued his criminal assault outside:
I spotted Scozzafava later as she was walking to the parking lot, and asked her: "Assemblywoman, do you believe that the health-care bill should exclude coverage for abortion?" She didn't reply. I asked her twice more. Silence.
Finally the police ride to the rescue:
Minutes later a police car drove into the parking lot with its lights flashing. Officer Grolman informed me that she was called because "there was a little bit of an uncomfortable situation" and then took down my name, date of birth, and address.
"Maybe we do things a little differently here, but you know, persisistence in that area, you scared the candidate a little bit," Officer Grolman told me.
"[Scozzafava] got startled, that's all," Officer Grolman added. "It's not like you're in any trouble."
Having escaped the long arm of the law, the alleged perpetrator ponders the situation:
But I do wonder if it’s the Scozzafava campaign that’s in trouble--with a candidate who supports card check, who is unwilling to say she’d oppose a health care bill that raises taxes or includes abortion coverage, and who is so reluctant to answer questions that she has someone with her campaign call the cops when she’s questioned by a reporter who is (if I may say so) polite--if a bit persistent.
And as for the suspect in this case, John McCormack, here is a serenade for you if you are ever again caught in the act of committing journalism.