media

Reporters Say Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel Banned Them From Campaign Events

Ossoff and Handel have something in common.

Both candidates in the Georgia special congressional race got into disputes with members of the media on the eve of Tuesday’s election — though, thankfully, this time neither incident involved physical assault. First Kira Lerner of ThinkProgress said she’d been barred from Republican Karen Handel’s final event of the day after asking her about the GOP health-care bill. Then Brent Scher of the Washington Free Beacon, who questioned Democrat Jon Ossoff’s claims about how far he lives from the district, said he was not allowed into Ossof’s campaign event on Monday night.

On Monday afternoon Lerner reported that Handel had avoided discussing the GOP health care overhaul, claiming that people in Georgia’s Sixth District aren’t that concerned about it. (Her previous reports on the candidate include “Dark money is fueling Karen Handel’s campaign for Cognress,” and “Georgia Republican enraged at court order making it easier for people to vote.”) Handel did answer a health care question from Lerner at an event around lunchtime, saying that while Senate Republicans are crafting their Obamacare replacement behind closed doors, she’s confident that they’ll provide “transparency” before pushing for a vote.

After the story was published on the liberal blog, Lerner asked her Twitter followers what questions they’d like her to raise at Handel’s last event of the day. Then about 90 minutes later, she said the Handel campaign wouldn’t let her in:

A few hours later, Scher tweeted that elsewhere in Georgia’s Sixth District, he was escorted out of an Ossoff event:

Scher noted in a report on the Free Beacon’s website that, during the event, Ossoff made the ironic remark: “Politics does not have to be about fear and hate and deception and division.”

Scher said the campaign offered no explanation for why he was escorted out of the event, or whether any other outlets were barred. He’s published a number of articles on the right-leaning site that were critical of Ossoff, and on Monday morning he posted a video showing that it took him two hours to walk from Ossoff’s home to Georgia’s Sixth District. Ossoff has tried to downplay the fact that he doesn’t live in the district, saying he moved closer to Emory University to accommodate his fiancée, but “as soon as she concludes her medical training, I’ll be 10 minutes back up the street into the district where I grew up.”

Several journalists came to Lerner’s and Scher’s defense, noting that the last thing we need is another D.C. politician who can’t handle tough questions from the press.

On Election Day Sacha Haworth, a spokeswoman for the Ossoff campaign, responded with this statement:

At previous campaign events, this person intimidated volunteers, took photos of campaign documents, and published them online. His credentials were not visible to staffers, nor did he identify himself as a journalist while attempting to record our volunteers’ conversations. This has nothing to do with his outlet, and unlike our opponent, we have made it our mission to run an open, accessible campaign, and in that spirit, we look forward to welcoming him at our watch party tonight and at future events.

Scher attended Ossoff’s watch party on Tuesday night.

This post was updated to include the response from the Ossoff campaign.

Reporters Say Ossoff and Handel Banned Them From Events