Reporter Meg Kissinger Ordered Not to Speak to Crowd

Reporter Meg Kissinger claims a White House aide ordered her not to speak with the crowd at a Michelle Obama speech.

Claim:   Reporter Meg Kissinger was ordered by a White House aide not to speak with attendees at speech given by Michelle Obama in support of Mary Burke.


UNDETERMINED

Example:   [Collected via Facebook, September 2014]


assigned to cover Michelle Obama’s speech today and was told by a Mary Burke aide and one for the White House that I could not speak to the people in the crowd. To say that I was creeped out is an understatement. This is what reporters do in America: we speak to people.

At least that’s how I’ve been doing things — at all kinds of political events … since 1979.


 

Origins:   In a Facebook status update posted on 29 September 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Meg Kissinger claimed that a White House aide had prohibited her from speaking with audience members at a speech given by First Lady Michelle Obama. In comments made on Facebook at about the same time as her now-viral status update, Kissinger said of her experience at the Mary Burke campaign event:


never seen anything like it in 35 years as a reporter covering dozens of political events. White House and Burke aides telling reporters we were not allowed to talk to the people on the other side of the rope. But that’s what reporters do: we talk to people. In America, that’s our job.

 

Kissinger later published an article including details of her experience covering the Burke event. She claimed that press members were segregated from event attendees and the two groups were intentionally kept apart:


Reporters and photographers were cordoned off in a central area with chairs and tables. Several people in the crowd asked if they could have extra chairs reserved for the media … but reporters were initially forbidden from handing them over. Eventually, some of the Burke staff gave the extra chairs to attendees.

 

Meg Kissinger’s claim about aides for both the White House and Mary Burke prohibiting press contact with speech attendees has been widely shared and reported upon since her initial post on 29 September. However, no corroborating accounts have emerged from other media representatives who were also present at the event. Neither the Burke campaign nor the White House have addressed Kissinger’s claims or explained why such a request might have been made of reporters.

Last updated:   1 October 2014