A Little Game Of Finger Pointing

In the latest in handheld-gate developments, Roll Call’s Mary Ann Akers reports that the Executive Committee of Periodical Correspondents “is the latest group to weigh in on the brouhaha.” Chairwoman Lorraine Woellert of Business Week sent a letter Monday to Senate GOP and Dem leaders “saying, basically, we didn’t do anything, don’t punish us, and we never liked those darned cameras anyway.”

While she never specifically mentions CNN’s Joe Johns “incident,” she did refer to the general subject of camera access, stating: “We do not endorse the use of roaming hand-held video cameras on the second floor. Because broadcast reporters can interview lawmakers using a pen and pad or a tape recorder, their access to Senators is, in fact, no way limited.”

Fox News’ Brian Wilson, also Radio-Television Correspondents’ Association chair, said broadcast journalists who cover Congress are only asking for a permanent camera stakeout position “without having advance permission” from Hill leaders who, Wilson said, “often deny our request to cover legitimate news when they don’t want the story covered.”

Regarding periodical correspondents delivering their letter to Senate leaders, Wilson said, “I’m saddened that our print brothers and sisters care about the First Amendment only as it applies to their particular form of journalism.”

On the Johns front, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Pickle is expected to issue a report on Sen. Ted Steven‘s complaint against Johns. The report could recommend revoking his press credentials.

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