Joe Miller Really Doesn’t Want to Take Questions

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Photo: alaskadispatch.com

A week ago, Republican Alaskan Senate candidate Joe Miller, who is mired in a three-way death match with incumbent Republican senator Lisa Murkowski and Democratic candidate Scott McAdams, decided, you know what, I'm just not going to discuss anything from my past anymore. "You can ask me about background, you can ask me about personal issues. I'm not going to answer," Miller insisted. This was particularly bad timing for the media, since it wanted to ask so many questions about the time Miller, as a part-time attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough, was disciplined by the mayor for using government computers for partisan political purposes, an ethical violation. But Miller neglected to explain that the penalty for asking such questions might be your temporary incarceration by his private security guards. That would have been pretty relevant information for Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hapfinger last night.

It was after a public town-hall event at a public middle school in Anchorage that Hapfinger confronted Miller with questions. Here's how Hopfinger described what happened to the Anchorage Daily News:


Hopfinger, who was holding a small video camera, said he was attempting to draw out a statement from Miller on why he was disciplined by the Fairbanks North Star Borough when Miller worked there as a part-time attorney. After Miller walked away, Hopfinger said, he was surrounded by Miller supporters and security guards and felt threatened, so he pushed one of them away....

Hopfinger said that after he shoved the man away, the guards grabbed him, cuffed his hands behind his back with steel handcuffs and sat him in a chair in the school hallway, Hopfinger said.

As you might imagine, Miller's campaign remembers the incident a bit differently:


[T]he blogger chased Miller to the exit after the event concluded in an attempt to create and then record a 'confrontation' with the candidate. While Miller attempted to calmly exit the facility, the blogger physically assaulted another individual and made threatening gestures and movements towards the candidate. At that point the security personnel had to take action and intervened and detained the irrational blogger, whose anger overcame him.

See, this would have never happened in New York. When a reporter gets in your face, you don't get rattled and put him in handcuffs. You just vaguely allude to murdering him.

Without knowing exactly how this went down, it's hard to say whether Miller's security guard had any justification for detaining Hapfinger. But as Politico's Ben Smith notes, "this isn't exactly the first time a reporter has ever chased a politician out of an event, shouting questions. Indeed, that's how almost every political event ends." And we may never know exactly what happened — because the security guards took Hapfinger's video camera, and returned it less some vital footage.


One of the guards grabbed Hopfinger's video camera. Later, Hopfinger said that when he got the camera back, the segment covering the span of the arrest was missing. An Anchorage police officer offered to take the camera into custody and have it examined in the crime lab to investigate whether evidence had been destroyed, but Hopfinger declined. He said he needed the camera and the remaining video for his work.

One would assume that, had the "arrest" been entirely warranted, the video of how it went down would have been pretty useful in corroborating Miller's security's side of the story. Wonder why they deleted it then?

Miller security guards handcuff journalist [Alaska Daily News]
Miller blames 'irrational blogger' [Ben Smith/Politico]