Friday 23 February 2018

Joe Biden's staff 'force journalist into cupboard'

Toby Harnden

Vice President Joe Biden's staff forced a journalist into a storage cupboard to prevent him interviewing attendees at a glitzy Democratic fund-raising event in Florida.

Scott Powers, a veteran political reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, was designated as the "pool" journalist to cover a €340-a-head events for 150 guests to raise money for the re-election campaign of Senator Bill Nelson.

But aides to Mr Biden decided that Powers was only entitled to listen to the vice-president's speech and should not be given access to guests gathering beforehand at the home of Alan Ginsberg, a wealthy developer in Winter Park, Florida.

To enforce this, Powers was ushered into a cluttered storage closet with a Biden staffer standing watch outside the door to prevent him emerging from what his newspaper described as a "temporary prison".

He was not given any of the food that the guests enjoyed – caprese crostini with oven-dried mozzarella and basil, rosemary flatbread with grapes, honey and Gorgonzola cheese, grilled chicken Caesar and garden vegetable wraps.

He emailed his newspaper: "Sounds like a nice party". He told the Drudge Report website: "When I'd stick my head out, they'd say, 'Not yet. We'll let you know when you can come out'." Neither Mr Ginsberg nor his guests were aware of what had happened to the journalist.

After an hour and 15 minutes, Powers emerged from cupboard to watch Mr Biden and Mr Nelson speak.

He sent out a lengthy report on Mr Biden's remarks. The report did not mention the closet incident, stating only that "press coverage was limited to a single pool reporter, who was allowed to listen to the remarks but not given an opportunity to talk with anyone at the event".

But Powers emailed a photograph of the inside of the cupboard to his newspaper and gave a detailed account of what happened to the Drudge Report.

The White House website states that "President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history".

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