Richardson’s Staff: We Didn’t Hear the Question about the Grand-Jury Investigation, Honest

by Jim Geraghty

A television station aired footage of Bill Richardson concluding a press conference by quickly getting up and ignoring reporters’ questions about a grand-jury investigation into a campaign donor; refusing to even make eye contact. (Richardson is apparently usually eager to take questions.)

Richardson’s staff complained that the reporter “had a hand-held microphone, and he may have spoken into that. But he did not make an effort to get the Governor’s attention following the news conference, contrary to your news report.” They also complain that the station didn’t tell them that a camera and microphone were rolling during another interaction the same day.

The station replies:

I don’t see that your accusation of dishonesty is supported by the facts. The camera was not hidden, nor was the microphone. I assure you we were attempting no deception. You state yourself that you spotted both the camera and the microphone and walked away for that specific reason. That is your choice. However, I would remind you that you are a public official, and that this was a public event to which the media were invited. You may assume in the future that if our cameras and microphones are present, they will be in use. Our purpose is not to embarrass you. However, as a matter of philosophy, we believe public officials have a duty to speak publicly about the public’s business. The level of access we get in pursuit of a response from those in power will be a feature of our reporting, as it was last night. And as a practical matter, what would have been the harm of answering Mr. Bohman’s question? I believe our viewers would like to hear from the Governor, or at very least from his staff, face to face, that nothing inappropriate is going on or has gone on. A short, two-month-old written statement is a cold substitute for that.

Can you blame a reporter for being suspicious when usually unbearably garrulous Bill Richardson doesn’t want to talk?