Fair and balanced -- that's us | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Fair and balanced -- that's us

Posted By on Tue, May 2, 2006 at 2:13 PM

The Huckster has unloaded his response to criticism from a certain liberal-leaning, free-distribution newspaper of his decision to blackball the Arkansas Times among all Arkansas media requesting routine services from his publicly financed office.

Grab a cup of coffee. He's got many hundred words, not all of them accurate. Like saying everything we want is on his website. To name one of many exceptions: This particular missive went out several hours before it was available on the web. Time does matter. Also: We have never requested notice every time he conducts an interview with a member of the press. We have asked only for the routine notice of general press availability distributed to those, on request, who regularly cover the Capitol. Big difference.

The Huck was kind enough to share a photo of me at one of his news conferences to show what an open fellow he is. Indeed, he was quite cordial that day and I believe my report on the session was similarly warm (I even included, at his request, the note that he didn't frequent the sorts of places that would likely be exempted from the new anti-smoking law). He fails to mention, however, how we'll be able to hoof over to the Capitol for repeats if he no longer informs us about such press confabs. It would appear, too, that his press secretary is no longer answering our questions.

Anyway, read His Petulancy (perhaps "the most accessible governor" ever; he says modestly) for yourself, right here.

Here's what I told AP in response:

The Arkansas Times wants no special treatment. It wants only the public services routinely given on request to media that regularly cover the Capitol. That means timely distribution of news releases and timely notice of the governor's general press availability. We once received such notices. For reasons unclear to us, the governor decided to blackball the Arkansas Times. It will be, for one, difficult to attend news conferences about which we are no longer informed.

Contrary to what the governor says, all the information we seek is not available on his website, including the news conference notices.

Legal questions aside, the governor sent a chilling message with this action. That's why, when the governor of Maryland put a less restrictive ban on two Baltimore newspaper writers (they still received news releases and press conference notices), every major press organization rose to the Baltimore Sun's defense. The good news is that, in eight months, Huckabee seems likely to be succeeded by a governor who understands that you don't have to win a popularity contest to receive equal public services.

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