Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden barred most media from his Minnesota campaign stop Friday, according to several local reporters.
Biden visited union members in Duluth Friday afternoon while President Donald Trump held a rally in Bemidji later in the evening. Unlike Trump’s rally, Biden’s visit strictly limited media access. The event was so controlled that The Star Tribune referred to it as “Biden’s carefully choreographed small group encounter.”
A slew of mostly left-leaning Minnesota journalists from other outlets bemoaned the fact that the campaign denied them access and appeared to withhold details about the event for much longer than usual.
WCCO anchor Esme Murphy noted how the campaign’s hesitation to provide details about its press policy was “really unusual,” and compared it to Trump’s campaign which was forthcoming with reporters.
Less than 24 hours before his visit to Duluth @JoeBiden has still not released time or details of what earlier press release said would be “pool coverage “ – this is really unusual for any campaign much less a presidential one-@realDonaldTrump had Bemidji details out 4 days ago
— esme murphy (@esmemurphy) September 18, 2020
“Biden’s team has released scant details of his afternoon trip to a Hermantown union training center (we haven’t gotten the time, or how many Minnesota reporters will be allowed in),” echoed Fox 9 reporter Theo Keith.
Fluence Media CEO Blois Olson then confirmed that the Biden campaign told reporters that just three select journalists would be allowed inside the event, shortly before the event was set to begin.
“What’s the point of coming here at all?” asked local news anchor Dan Wolfe. “No media communication, ‘virtual’ rallies and very little campaigning isn’t a recipe for success.”
As of 9:30 a.m., the Biden campaign still hadn’t provided the media with the exact time and location of the event, and “yanked the only one-on-one interview,” Wolfe added.
“Yes there’s a pandemic. But all we hear from Dems is ‘our democracy is at stake.’ If so, might want to start campaigning like that’s the case. This Joe Biden visit was badly bungled by his people,” he said.
“I can’t stress how completely disappointing this is,” remarked local reporter Jerry Burnes, who spoke with a representative for the union hosting Biden who “was surprised by the apparent Minnesota media blackout.”
Glen Stubbe, a photojournalist for The Star Tribune, said it “seems no local Minnesota news photographers will be allowed to cover Joe Biden event in Duluth today.”
“Joe Biden is in Minnesota. But all local media has been shut out of his event, so we’re relying on a pool feed,” noted Guy Still, an editor at WCCO.
Meanwhile, Trump’s Minnesota rally boasted what appeared to be full media access.
Fake News kids in action. pic.twitter.com/HRU9gsVqb8
— Michael J. Matt (@Michael_J_Matt) September 18, 2020
The event itself was also vastly different from “Biden’s carefully choreographed small group encounter,” as it drew a large crowd of supporters.