Here's one for fans of cheap irony: Mitt Romney gave a speech in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday at which reporters were asked to leave before the floor opened up to questions at... The Newseum, an institution devoted to America's press. Romney was addressing a group of business leaders called Business Roundtable, and since it was a private event he technically didn't have any obligation to allow in anybody he or his hosts didn't want. But the fact that his campaign evicted the press inside a museum dedicated to journalism is just too rich to ignore, and as The Los Angeles Times Paul West notes, "that was also the case when Obama addressed the CEOs in March." If the candidates want to evict journalists, they've got to come up with a new location for these events.
Romney stayed to take questions. But following his 28-minute address -- held at the Newseum, which is situated between the US Capitol and the White House – reporters were escorted out of the room and weren’t allowed to listen to the questions.
Really, this is a story about an unfortunate location rather than Romney's overall relationship with the press, which we already know is strained. Last moth, Romney's aides physically stopped reporters from approaching him at one of his events so that they couldn't ask the candidate questions. Last year, the campaign ejected reporter Jose Antonio Vargas from an event he said he was covering as a journalist, because the campaign said he was there as an activist. Wednesday's event didn't involve any confrontation, as you can see on C-Span's recording. Click to 28:55 to hear the host say, "while our friends from the press exit, we will now move to a more informal session, shall we say." Even C-Span had to turn the camera off.
Update (4:15 p.m. EDT): The Newseum's management weighed in with Washington Post's Erik Wemple, reiterating that this was a private event:
Cathy Trost, vice president of exhibits, programs and media relations for Newseum, says that the Business Roundtable event was a private affair. “They were renting conference space for a program that they held,” says Trost, adding that the expulsion of the reporters was “not in the public museum space.”
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