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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old April 9th, 2004, 02:07 PM   #1
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Two reporters have their tapes erased by Justice Scalia

I believe this is relevant to those of us who like to cover public events.

Marshal Orders Tapes Of Scalia Talk Erased

This and from other stories indicate the following: It is known that Justice Scalia does not allow the taping of his speeches when he arranges a public event. However, in this case it was an appearance arranged by a school.

Apparently, two reporters who were covering a public speech by Justice Scalia to high school students were ordered by one of his security detail to erase their tapes.

Two questions:
1) Can a public official disallow recording of a public appearance at all? Public officials who hold an event could bar reporters or not invite reporters. But if reporters are allowed in, what right does the speaker have in attempting to bar recording?

2) What is the legality of giving up your tape in the event that you are approached by an officer?

Imagine if one of us were videotaping the event. I'm not a journalist but I considered myself one in university and I know enough that there is no way I would give up my tape. I would rather go to jail.
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Old April 9th, 2004, 10:55 PM   #2
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I'm intrigued by this story too. I honestly don't know if they had the authority to force the reporter to erase the recording. I'm surprised the reporter agreed to it. It would be worth spending the night in jail over.
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Old April 9th, 2004, 11:36 PM   #3
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Damn. I too am intrigued. Is this for real?
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Old April 9th, 2004, 11:50 PM   #4
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Yes, it's a true story. Scalia's taking a bit of press heat for the incident.

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Old April 12th, 2004, 03:06 PM   #5
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This incident did not go unnoticed. See the following:
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/12/opinion/12HERB.html
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Old April 12th, 2004, 03:34 PM   #6
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That op / ed sums it real well, Warren. And therein lies the answer to one of my questions:

"I called Jane Kirtley, a professor of media, ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, and asked her what was wrong with what the marshal did. She replied, "Everything."

Not only was it an affront to the Constitution to seize and erase the recordings, Ms. Kirtley believes it was also a violation of the Privacy Protection Act, a law passed by Congress in 1980."
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Old April 12th, 2004, 03:39 PM   #7
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Scalia apologizes

Just found this. Justice Scalia wrote to the Reporters Committee of the Freedom of the Press and said that he did not authorize the marshal's actions and was 'as upset as you were'. He also said that he wrote apologies to the two reporters who had their tapes erased.

http://www.rcfp.org/news/releases/scalia_response.pdf
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Old April 14th, 2004, 03:33 PM   #8
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elvez

As a former journalist, I was appalled that any reporter would turn over a tape w/out a subpeona.
This is what we get when the going wage for print reporters rivals that of a Macdonald's shift manager.
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Old April 14th, 2004, 04:13 PM   #9
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That's the part of the story I don't get either. Most reporters live for that kind of thing. One was an AP reporter too -- not typically a very timid bunch. Supposedly her recorder was physically seized over her protests. As I read the story, she probably agreed to show them how to erase it so she could get her recorder back. (There was no tape to hand over.)
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Old April 14th, 2004, 08:37 PM   #10
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Antonin Scalia

He is a sitting justice on the United States Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.
If this case, ordering the censure of press at a public speaking engagement, went before his own court he would lose.
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