"I hope the candidate that promises to unite America isn't using a litmus test to determine who gets to cover his campaign."
-- Washington Times Executive Editor John Solomon, reacting to the news that his newspaper had been kicked off Barack Obama's plane after it ran an editorial endorsing Senator John McCain's presidential bid.
Washington Times Kicked Off Obama's Plane
by Tom Ramstack
Friday, October 31, 2008
The Washington Times, N.Y. Post and Dallas Morning News -- three newspapers that recently endorsed John McCain -- have been kicked off Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's plane in the final days of his campaign.
The Obama campaign informed The Washington Times Thursday evening of its decision, which came two days after The Times editorial page endorsed Senator John McCain over Mr. Obama. The Times editorial page runs independently of the news department.
"This feels like the journalistic equivalent of redistributing the wealth. We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars covering Senator Obama's campaign, traveling on his plane, and taking our turn in the reporters' pool, only to have our seat given away to someone else in the last days of the campaign," said Washington Times Executive Editor John Solomon.
News organizations pay campaigns for the cost of traveling on the candidate's planes.
Read The Washington Times' editorial on the endorsement of Republican presidential hopeful John McCain.
Obama spokeswoman Linda Douglass said the changes on the plane had "absolutely nothing" to do with the organizations' coverage, an explanation echoed by Obama advisor and communications chief Anita Dunn.
"Demand for seats on the plane during this final weekend has far exceeded supply, and because of logistical issues we made the decision not to add a second plane. This means we've had to make hard and unpleasant for all concerned decisions about limiting some news organizations and in some cases not being in a position to offer space to news organizations altogether," Ms. Dunn wrote in an e-mail to The Times Thursday night.
However, the Politico reported Friday that political considerations also were part of the decision. Bill Burton, another Obama spokesman, said the seat shuffles were an effort by the campaign to "reach as many swing voters as we can."
Swing voters aren't likely to change results among The Dallas Morning News' Texas readership or the New York Post's audience, but The Washington Times is widely read in Virginia, a battleground state where the race could still break either way.
Liberals often vilify me when I point out Obama and his campaign's Nazi-like approach to those they perceive, rightly or wrongly, as their political opponents. Obama is a thin-skinned politician. He cannot handle criticism or opposition without retaliation.
Should Obama be elected, God forbid, what damage will he cause to the First Amendment when he abuses presidential power to silence dissenting voices?