By Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
Hillary Clinton’s paranoia about the press was shockingly on display at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York City last week. Veteran New York Times reporter Amy Chozick reported that working press covering the event were herded into a “press corral” in order to keep them apart from the speakers and audience -and especially from Hillary. So stringent were the restrictions on their movements that they couldn’t even go to the bathroom without being accompanied by escorts. Chozick said hers actually “waited outside the stall” to accompany her back to the Corral. (“At Clinton Event, A Really Close Watch on Reporters”,http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2014/09/24/?entry=660)
Chozick described what happened:
“…perhaps the person who stands out is the friendly 20-something press aide who the Clinton Global Initiative tasked with escorting me to the restroom. She waited outside the stall in the ladies’ room at the Sheraton Hotel, where the conference is held every year.”
According to an article on BuzzFeed.com, Clinton Foundation officials vehemently deny that anyone “deliberately” followed any reporter to the bathroom or was asked to do so. They claimed that “after looking into the matter, they found no proof that a volunteer “deliberately” followed a reporter to the bathroom. Aides said that as a matter of policy, CGI staffers and volunteers had never been instructed to accompany press inside restrooms.” http://www.buzzfeed.com/rubycramer/clinton-foundation- denies-sending-press-escorts-inside-bathr#g1axuo, Clinton Foundation Denies Sending Press Escorts Inside Bathrooms
But this unprecedented attempt to control the press has happened at CGI meetings before. Its not the first time. It’s just the first time they got caught by a national newspaper.
BuzzFeed reported that during the CGI America conference in June, a reporter for Reuters was“escorted to the bathroom, but not inside it, by people working at the CGI America conference.” And the website also cited an April 2013 tweet by Bob Cohen, a photojournalist for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, protesting that he “ didn’t need an escort to go to the bathroom” at a Clinton event.
Another Post Dispatch employee, political reporter Kevin Mc Dermott spoke on jimromenesko.com about his amazement at the attempts to control the press at a CGI event in St. Louis:
“… [I] was shuttled to a press corral — a tight little isolated room, away from the hundreds of non-press people who are wandering around, seemingly unimpeded — and I asked where the bathroom was. And instead of just having a men’s room pointed out to me, I was physically escorted there by a 20-something female guide.And I came out afterward to find her still standing there, right outside the door, waiting, to take me right back to the press corral.” http://jimromenesko.com/2013/04/08/dear-bill-clinton-co-reporters-dont-need-to-be-escorted-to-the-bathroom/
In response toMcDermott’s complaint, the brilliant Minassai said: “Journalists are escorted to the bathrooms because often journalists don’t know where they are.”
Minassian also injected a sarcastic tone and made the cover-up obvious in a reply to a query by Chozick about the practice of escorting reporters around the conference. Minassian referred her to a story about the American Standard’s Flush for Good campaign to improve sanitation for three million people in the developing world. “Since you are so interested in bathrooms and C.G.I.”
Not exactly a professional reply. More like an in-your-face -get-lost- we’re-in-charge-here-barb.
But the practice of “escorting” reporters is no laughing matter. It reflects the passion for control and paranoia that pervades both the would-be candidate for president and her staff.