Monday, August 14, 2006

More on Fitzpatrick Staffer and Murphy Press Call

Yesterday I wrote a short post on the unusual tactic of incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick's (PA-08) chief of staff joining in a phone conference call, hosted by Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy and Sen. John Kerry. It was mentioned in today's Inquirer ("Crashing a News Conference," by Christine Schiavo) (h/t Carl). Note this:

Fitzpatrick, reached later, said he didn't tell Conallen to make the call, but was "proud" of him for "pinning Murphy down."

"That's what press conferences are for," he said.

Allrighty, people, that's what he thinks press conferences are for -- government employees on their days off to come in and ask scheduling questions about campaign events. Let's all remember that next time he has a press conference.


Bernie O'Hare said...

A candidate conducting an "invitation only" press conference is clearly trying to manage the media. I frankly find that a lot more offensive than a conference crasher. And it's truly disturbing that the Inquirer failed to pick up on that. Their focus and yours is misplaced. Forget who's crashing these things. Since when do candidates get to invite which members of the presss can attend their conferences? If this sort of thing happens regularly, then I know why many feel the news is managed. A member of the press, if ethical, should resist an invitation aimed at giving some members of the press preferential treatment over others. That's even more important than being there first.

phillydem said...

No, the problem isn't really with crashing the conference call. Many liberal bloggers and activists do the same thing to conservative and GOP conference calls.

The ethical issue is Fitzpatrick using his congressional staff. Federal legislators are prohibited from using their congressional staff and office for campaign purposes. If one of Fitzpatrick's campaign staff had crashed the call this would be a non-story.

The big clue that Fitzpatrick knew this was an illegal use of his congressional staff is that the staffer allegedly was off that day.
That's clearly an attempt to skirt
the law.