Saturday, January 29, 2005

Wash Post reporter will reveal extensive use of minders at inaugural balls the art of press handling has evolved into actual manhandling. The Bush administration has expanded the use of “minders,” government employees or volunteers who escort journalists from interview to interview within a venue or at a newsworthy event.

... Several reporters covering the balls were surprised to find themselves being monitored Soviet-style by young “escorts” who followed them from hors d’oeuvres table to dance floor and even to the bathroom.

... As I was dictating from my notes, something flashed across my face and neatly snatched my cell phone from of my hand. I looked up to confront a middle-aged woman, her faced afire with rage. “You ignored the rules, and I’m throwing you out!” she barked, snapping my phone shut. “You told that girl you didn’t need an escort. That’s a lie! You’re out of here!”

... No, the minders weren’t there to monitor me. They were there to let the guests, my sources on inaugural night, know that any complaint, any unguarded statement, any off-the-reservation political observation, would be noted.

Huundreds of sensitive microphones, pattern recogonition software that triggered a Code Red every time the word "privatization" was uttered... Freedom, indeed.


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