Congressional races often turn nasty.
By the end of close contests, candidates usually are launching personal attacks. And conservative candidates in more prominent races must contend with a left-leaning national media.
But when does this national election madness cross the line and turn into local paranoia? When the local press is banned from an advertised event to which the public is invited.
The Enterprise fell victim to this last week.
Our reporter and photographer were banned from a South Fork reception Sept. 5 for U.S. Senate candidate Liz Cheney. That, despite the first line of the ad which ran in this newspaper: “You are cordially invited … .” But “you” didn’t mean the Enterprise, nor did “cordial” apply.
We can’t remember the last time the Enterprise was shut out of an advertised, public event. It’s been decades. In fact, most people seeking public office want us to cover their events and are unhappy if we don’t.
Cheney is mired in a dispute with the Jackson Hole News & Guide which recently led her to tell a Jackson audience, “Newspapers are dying, and that’s not a bad thing.”
She quickly clarified that comment was directed solely at the News & Guide, and later added, “We are blessed in Wyoming to have a number of hardworking objective journalists and important local papers.”
If Cheney is unhappy with a newspaper, does she really wish it to go out of business? What’s next? She’s unhappy with her plumber and wishes him out of business too?
This week Cheney’s campaign defended the Cody press ban saying some people like to be able to ask questions in an atmosphere free of reporters. But the public is plenty used to the press and there’s always time for more private visits. This looks far more like the candidate wished for her answers to be given free of reporters, than trying to protect those asking the questions.
Cheney claims “bias” against the Jackson paper specifically for its coverage of her year-plus residency in Wyoming and her wrongly obtaining a resident fishing license. Both are legitimate issues in this race and “local” to Jackson. They also are of statewide interest and thus have been well-covered across Wyoming.
Granted, her press-bashing plays well to a relatively small group of people. But while such sideshows may gain a candidate 10 votes, 50 other people will not be impressed by the unnecessary distraction.