Vice President Joe Biden’s staff has apologized to an Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reporter for sequestering him in a closet so he couldn’t mingle with guests at a fundraiser before headline speakers Biden and Sen. Bill Nelson arrived and began to address the crowd.
Reporter Scott Powers was on hand to cover the posh event at wealthy property developer Alan Ginsburg’s Winter Park, Fla., mansion March 23 when he found himself ushered into a closet.
Biden and Nelson were slated to speak to the audience to raise money for the 2012 elections — more specifically, to boost the re-election war chest of Democrat Nelson. Powers was instructed that he could emerge from his make-shift cell when the politicians were ready to give their speeches.
|Closet where Orlando Sentinel reporter Scott Powers was contained.
A Biden representative later explained that an “inexperienced staffer” had put Powers in the closet instead of a “hotel room,” as was the usual practice.
Powers was left to listen and smell as the $500-a-head invitees munched on caprese crostini with oven-dried mozzarella and basil and murmured amongst themselves. He recalled that, during his 90-minute confinement he would crack the door. “When I’d stick my head out, they'd say, ‘Not yet. We'll let you know when you can come out.’”
From inside, Powers emailed his office from his cellphone: “Sounds like a nice party.”
Afterward, Powers said: “It was frustrating and annoying that I was not given a chance to do my job fully and properly. This was an extreme and extremely inappropriate way of handling the press . . . It was essentially a rude and uncomfortable way to treat a reporter.”
Recently, President Barack Obama spokesman Jay Carney told reporters: “Journalists should be protected and allowed to do their work.”
Powers eventually received an apology from Ginsburg and from the vice president’s office.
Powers said Ginsburg was embarrassed when he called to apologize. “He said he was very sorry — he had no idea I’d been confined in the closet,” Powers said.
Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander’s apology appeared to gloss over the Spartan conditions of the 8-by-10 closet piled with boxes and baskets, a small table, and a chair.
But instead of addressing the issue head on, Biden fell into campaign speak, calling the small closet a “hold room.”
"Scott — You have our sincere apologies for the lack of a better hold room," she wrote.
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