All right everybody, take off your shoes and place them in the containers

Missouri’s new governor held a press conference today and reporters who showed up were told they had to leave their cell phones at a reception desk. St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Tony Messenger was one of the reporters:

“Members of the Capitol press corps revolted and demanded reasons. “Security reasons” was the response given by Nixon spokesman Scott Holste, who said it was Nixon’s policy and the governor wouldn’t budge.

At that point, reporters started talking about walking out of the news conference before it began (and I took out my cell phone and Twittered the news). Holste went back to the governor’s private offices, and came back with the verdict. Reporters didn’t have to give up their cell phones.

Asked after the news conference about the policy, Nixon communications director Jack Cardetti said he didn’t believe the cell phone policy had anything to do with security.

“The governor believes when meetings are taking place in the oval office .. that everybody should be focused on the task at hand,” Cardetti said, noting that staff and others who are invited to meetings in the governor’s office follow the same policy. But Cardetti said the policy would not apply to the press, many of whom use their cell phones for reporting purposes.

During the news conference, reporters also noticed a new tiny camera above one of the doors. The camera feeds to a screen on a secretary’s desk that allows her to know when meetings have begun or are finished in the office, Cardetti said. He showed curious reporters the screen that captures the feed. The meetings are not recorded, he said.”

As Colonel Klink would say, “Veeeeeery interesting.”

How about, put your cell phones on vibrate or turn them off? And a wee little camera above one of the doors. Curiouser and curiouser.

One of the comments on Messengers’ blog post asks:

“If there is now a camera that is recording or broadcasting all meetings in the Governors office, should not this be covered under the Sunshine Law and allow the feed to be streaming video on the internet so that we, as taxpayers, can see what is happening in the meetings of our governmental officials?”

But back to the cell phones –and I admit to being both slow and naive– why wouldn’t the governor want reporters to have cell phones during press conferences, assuming one doesn’t buy the “let’s stay focused” explanation?

UPDATE: Missourinet reporter Steve Walsh was at the press conference and snapped a photo of the gov’s tiny camera.

5 thoughts on “All right everybody, take off your shoes and place them in the containers

  1. Edward: Putting the phones on vibrate would have been fine. And reasonable. But asking the reporters to surrender their phones? Nope.

  2. I tend to agree with the Gov, put the phones on vibrate. Chances are what every calls you might get during an hour (or two) meeting can wait and be returned later. Nothing more annoying the the ringing of phones and people answering them in the middle of a meeting. If it TRULY is an emergency excuse thyself and answer it outside.
    I will now step off my pedestal.

  3. “Walk tall, kick ass, learn to speak Arabic, love music and never forget that you come form a long line of truth-seekers, lovers and warriors.”–Hunter S. Thompson

  4. Col. Klink didn’t say that. Artie Johnson as the German soldier on Laugh-In said “Veeeeeery interesting.” . . . usually followed by, “But shtupid.”

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