September 30, 2011
OK. Here's why newspaper editors get white hair.
On Thursday, we were told in the firmest terms that Congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann's appearance at the Members Club in Pinehurst was strictly off-limits to media. I thought that was a bunch of crap and let those feelings be known in several phone calls.
The local organizers I unloaded on, including Bob Levy, Moore County Republican chairman, were chagrined and embarrassed about the situation but made it clear that their hands were tied. So we decided not to send anybody. I did drive out there myself after work and managed to snap one painfully blurry picture of Bachmann as she entered, and that's what we put up on the Web.
Then, after 7 p.m., when our paper had already gone to press with a note on the front page saying the Bachmann event was closed, I had an apologetic call from Levy letting me know that the campaign had done a 180 and opened the thing to the press. I phoned staff writer and photographer Hannah Sharpe and asked her to hurry out.
She did so and was able to put together a nice photo and story package — but too late for today's paper. It was not too late for some other media with later deadlines, of course, which made us look like we had gotten beat on our own story.
If there is an upside to this whole sorry and maddening story, it’s this: At this morning’s Bachmann event at the Country Club of North Carolina, which really was closed to the press, the congresswoman’s communications director, Alice Stewart, felt so bad about what had happened to us that she graciously arranged for Hannah to have an exclusive interview with Michele, for which we are eternally grateful.