Editorial – Getting Ejected At Zeldin Kick-Off from Smithtown Matters
I am at a loss for words. Last night I was ejected from the Lee Zeldin kick-off rally, which I WAS INVITED TO, without cause. Yes, I was invited to attend the rally by the Zeldin Campaign and was credentialed by the Zeldin Campaign. Upon arrival I was told to go anywhere I wanted to take photos, again by the Zeldin campaign. I stood in the same spot, with my credentials plainly in sight, for roughly an hour and a half before, out of the blue, I was told to leave… without an explanation. I was forced to climb over a rope to get to the path leading to a door (one woman sneered and said “bye bye” as I walked past). Once out the door and in a back yard area, I was mocked by a group of people. A man upset that I was taking photos smacked my camera and I was told by security to leave the Elks Club premises. All while I was wearing the press badge supplied by the Zeldin campaign and telling everyone I was an invited press person.
I am confident that my behavior was professional. This was not a ‘question and answer’ press event. The press was there as observers. I took photos, and for approximately one and a half hours I listened to guest speakers talk about Lee Zeldin and their impression of his work ethic, his belief in America and his relationship with Donald Trump. This was a rally for supporters meant to energize, create positive thoughts and a “can do” attitude about this candidate.
Here’s what the speakers didn’t say, and you should now know about Lee Zeldin. He, through his staff, will discriminate, try to embarrass, and arbitrarily have the invited press removed without benefit of an explanation and without cause. Another thing the speakers didn’t mention about Lee Zeldin was that his love of country falls short of the 1st Amendment rights of free speech or free press. Was the Press being invited to cover his event and then being ejected, (David Ambro of The Smithtown News was also ejected), for the purpose of showing his disregard for the work journalists do? Was it intended as a preemptive strike against future work? This behavior was an attempt to taint the belief in journalist objectivity – after all, he can say that he had to have the Press ejected. Imagine a news article written about Lee Zeldin now… imagine how the story is perceived by someone who learns that the writer was thrown out of his kick-off rally. Will the writer be seen as a fair source of information?
These are challenging times. Elected officials are taking unique steps to quiet the voices of those who challenge or question them. For our democracy to flourish a strong press is necessary. I will continue to do all I can to maintain a high ethical standard and I call on you to push back on abuses like this.
Pat Biancaniello and this is Smithtown Matters
Friday, June 29, 2018 at 12:44PM
Response from Perry Gershon:
Free press is a quintessential part of our democracy. That’s why I was shocked to hear the reports of a credentialed local journalist being kicked out of Zeldin‘s fundaiser in Smithtown last night. It appears Lee Zeldin is doing everything he can to emulate President Trump’s demonization of the press. Is this tactic now going to be a part of Zeldin’s playbook?
The voters of NY01 deserve a campaign that focuses on the issues that matter to Long Islanders – healthcare, the environment, gun safety and jobs. The role of the Press needs to be respected for this discussion to take place. Here is the link to the Editorial from Smithtown Matters: http://www.smithtownmatters.com/…/editorial-getting-ejected…d
And then there is this from the Southern Poverty Law Center:
Milo Yiannopoulos, the far-right provocateur, tells reporters he hopes angry conservatives start assassinating them, and the alt-right ’14/88ers’ love the idea.*
Apparently, Milo Yiannopoulos didn’t get the memo about the need for civility in our discourse.
“I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight,” the far-right provocateur texted a reporter for the New York Observer this week. When the reporter inquired further, Yiannopoulos explained that he had simply issued his “standard response to a request for a comment.”
Lee Zeldin invites these guys as the honor guests to his fund raisers. Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka. Perhaps Milo Yiannopoulos will be next?
Does it feel like 1933? Yet?
*if you are wondering (like I was) what 88ers are, 88 stands for HH (or Heil Hitler), H being the 8th letter in the alphabet.
Important that the voters both Democrat, Republican, Independent or unaffiliated know this. Is this the kind of Congressman they want representing us in the Congress? Keep the high road Perry, most folks are decent and know the difference.
Two problems with Zeldin’s response — first, he doesn’t seem versed in matters of press freedom, odd for a lawyer, and a former military lawyer at that. Second, he does not seem to know how to deal with the media, even media whose conduct he may not have liked. The first is uninformed, the second, inept.