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.