Federal judge orders governor to allow blogger access to press events - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, January 24, 2021
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Federal judge orders governor to allow blogger access to press events

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Federal judge Joshua Kindred, a Trump appointee, has issued an order that is not likely to please some conservatives.

Judge Kindred ordered Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s press office to treat political writer, candidate, campaign manager, and unofficial lobbyist Jeff Landfield as a member of the media, including notifying him of all news conferences the governor has. At least on a temporary basis, until the case is heard in full.

Kindred wrote in his order that Landfield was likely to prevail in the suit against the governor, who has not been inviting the blogger to press conferences, or who has not taken questions from him when he shows up uninvited. Kindred said it is in the public interest that bloggers like Landfield are given adequate notice so they may attend press conferences, and that Landfield had previously been on the notification list, therefore it was no trouble for the Governor’s Office to restore him to that list.

Unanswered is whether the governor must take questions from someone who is not only a political writer, but who runs campaigns for candidates, is a candidate himself, and serves as a secret surrogate for certain lobbyists. Governors in the past have not taken questions from those who are not part of the media. At times, Democratic lawmakers used to crash press conferences of Gov. Sean Parnell and attempt to ask questions of him in front of reporters, which he refused to answer, telling them that they were not members of the press.

Creating an order that demands a governor must take questions from people may infringe upon his own free speech rights. Kindred’s order does not go that far, however, but it may mean an end to traditional press conferences and a return to Facebook town hall-style meetings for a while, a move that would bring loud braying from the legacy media.

Judge Kindred is the son-in-law of the late Sen. Chris Birch.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Kindred’s order doesn’t pass the smell test. I’m all for openness, but this allows things to get seriously out of hand. Can we picture Jim Acosta on steroids? Under such a situation a press conference would become open season on whoever was holding the conference. What about security? The only way to have open government is for those having access to exercise civility and honesty – both already lacking in the MSM. Unregulated/unvetted bloggers with an ax to grind or functioning as a spy for political opponents do not make for open society. This will lead to dictatorship.

  • It’s not cheap to go to federal court; wonder who paid Landfill’s legal bills. That said, I pretty much agree with his position and the Judge’s position. The Dunleavy Administration doesn’t miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Why give Landfill the win and the attention?

    The same sort of rules apply to this as apply to mob access to a capitol or other public building; you can usually enforce a universally applied rule if it isn’t obviously discriminatory. If the Office of the Governor had an articulated and published policy on press credentialing, it could exclude people without the necessary credential, but they can’t exclude Landfill just because he’s Beltrami’s shill.

    • Art is correct — this is yet another lost opportunity by Governor Dunleavy. Bad technique evident once again. When will this end?

      • Why not just give non-exclusionary press creds to Scott Kendall too? Thanks, your honor……

  • If we all remember correctly, Senator Chris Birch died while in office and his daughter was seeking appointment by the governor to fill the dead senator’s seat. Didn’t happen. Maybe this judge has an extrajudicial memory, and pillow talk with his wife (Sen. Birch’s daughter) might have created some extrajudicial distemper.

    • I don’t deny that that sort of stuff happens, but in this case, I think the judge was legally right no matter his motives.

      • Purely discretionary, Art. Judges hide behind this all the time, using it to accomplish personal motives and seek some revenge from the bench over grudges held. This judge’s motive can easily be traced back. Chris Birch was no friend to Governor Dunleavy. Birch was a true RINO and would have loved the governor’s seat for himself. Birch started his career in Fairbanks on the Assembly, but got busted one night for DUI and moved to Anchorage to start over. He quickly moved from House to the Senate and was contemplating moving on up. His ticker ran out before he got to the next level. Some missed appointments have long memories.

  • Fortunately, the mainstream media has no political agenda and is always completely objective.

  • I got no problem with this. No fan of Landfield, but blogging is an evolution of journalism.

    Maybe if Dunleavy would quit hiding behind his desk he’d be more confident taking tough questions.

  • Need a judge to order the legislature to let the media in.

  • Does MRAK get access to these press conferences? If not, you should now with this lawsuit. Unfortunate that Landfield will be there, but a bonus is now that political bloggers are allowed we should get more coverage from MRAK.

  • Who trusts the press in the first place?

    I’m thinking when politicians can cherry pick not only reporters, but questions, the public is being disserved.

    I’d like to ask the Governor a few questions myself, but apparently his cellphone doesn’t connect with Rural Alaska.

    Or maybe he hears what he wants to hear when he accidentally butt dials Lyman Hoffman.

  • Does an elected official have a 1st Amendment right when acting in their official capacity…that would be a new one on me.

  • We can’t trust the judges, media, professors, teachers, politicians, politicians or government officials. Politicians deserved to be mentioned twice.

    • Very true statement. I wonder how long is it going to take for people to realize what you said is dead on.

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