Alaska GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller, who has said he won't take "personal" questions from the media, apparently meant it. On October 17, his private security guards handcuffed and "arrested" an online journalist who followed Miller out of a town-hall event at an Anchorage public school and peppered the candidate with questions about alleged ethical violations that date back to Miller's time as a city attorney. The security guards say that the reporter, Tony Hopfinger, editor of the online news site Alaska Dispatch, was trespassing at the event. Both sides say Hopfinger pushed one of the guards. Who went too far? (Watch Hopfinger defend himself)
Miller's team was within its rights: Though Miller's trespassing charge is iffy, says Ed Morrissey in Hot Air, Hopfinger was asking for it when he initiated "physical assault." He has the right to ask Miller questions, but when "a reporter starts shoving security guards in any setting, he should expect to get arrested," especially in Alaska, where you can make a citizen's arrest for crimes like "battery."
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What happened to the free press? "Handcuffing a journalist is serious stuff in the United States," says Taylor Marsh in her blog, and the Founding Fathers would certainly not approve of Miller's "attack against the free press." It's not just siccing his guards on a reporter "trying to do his job," either — Miller's whole Tea Party media strategy of "ducking" press questions for friendly chats on Fox News is a "disturbing development" in politics.
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Let the chips fall as they may: Miller says Hopfinger is an "angry, irrational" blogger, not a reporter, says Ben Smith in Politico. But semantics aside, "this isn't exactly the first time a reporter has ever chased a politician out of an event, shouting questions." With write-in incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) "doing her best to make it an issue" — she accuses Miller of "illegally detaining" Hopfinger — this is now an issue for voters and "the police to sort out."
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