Been busy with SECB interviews so I'm kinda late to it, but I just wanted to take a moment to offer some comments on Joni Balter's blog post earlier this week about the incident where Attorney General Rob McKenna attempted to have me physically blocked from attending a press conference:
On Monday, Sytman said in an interview that he wanted to talk to Goldstein first about not disrupting the event. Goldstein can be, shall we say, an abrasive presence.
I waited patiently in the outer lobby for Sytman to talk to me, and the one time he showed his face he just brushed me aside. If Joni was a better journalist than I am, she might have called to ask me for my side of the story.
As for the "abrasive presence" line, I believe Balter and I have spoken face to face, shall we say, exactly once (at Joel Connelly's Christmas party in 2005). I don't remember ever seeing her at a press conference. That's not much to go on. So I presume she collected plenty of anecdotes about my "abrasive presence" before tossing it out there as conventional wisdom.
I can be an abrasive writer, sure, but in person I'm generally rather affable and respectful. So I'm not sure what Joni is referring to.
Sytman said he needed some extra time to talk to Goldstein. Sytman says Goldstein dominated and disrupted a media conference call with an assistant attorney general about a year ago.
That's a serious allegation, so I suppose Sytman must have a recording of that conference call to back him up (Dominic has twice asked if there's a recording, but Sytman has refused to answer). I'm guessing Joni must have insisted on listening to this recording instead of just credulously reporting Sytman's characterization. I mean, she's a reporter now, not an opinion writer, right?
I do recall asking a question and followup during Q&A, and I vaguely remember feeling that I had fumbled it, but I'm not sure how one "dominates" a conference call. There's a mute button, right? And they could always hang up on me. And, I'd hope that had I crossed some line or violated some unwritten code of journalism etiquette, somebody might have mentioned it to me at the time. They didn't. First I'd heard of it was in Joni's post. So quite honestly I'm absolutely floored by the accusation.
In any case, Goldstein eventually was admitted — before the attorney general began speaking, Sytman says. Goldstein asked no questions, I have been told, and left. But a question remains about the handling of someone who, by most accounts, had a right to be at the news conference from the beginning.
And what exactly is that question, Joni? Because by asking it, you seem to be suggesting that there actually is a legitimate question of whether or not I had a right to be admitted. Which seems to be an odd question for a journalist to ask.
Huh. No doubt I've pissed off some of my colleagues by critiquing their work (as if media criticism isn't a legitimate exercise), but I thought I'd see a bit more solidarity on such a crucial issue of press freedom.