Updated, 7:19 a.m.: Copy edits
In the days before Nov. 6, the Republican Town Committee promoted an election night “victory party”. “All are welcome,” the announcement said.
Every election night for the past eight years, I’ve visited Norwalk Democratic and Republican events to obtain news and reactions. This year, while I was visiting the polls, some Norwalk Republicans encouraged me to attend the Election Night party. I had already planned to; Harold Cobin was shooting video of the Democrats and I thought I’d get good photos and comments from Republicans to round out the coverage.
But within two minutes of my arrival, just 10 minutes into the party, RTC Chairman Mark Suda said something I’ve never heard before. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’re not welcome here,” he said. “Really?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. No explanation was provided. I left.
Within an hour, Norwalk Hour editor Thane Grauel called. He had heard what happened. Whatever the Hour’s reporter obtained at the RTC event, he would share with me, he said.
“A free press is a cornerstone of our democratic system,” Grauel wrote Monday in an email to NancyOnNorwalk. “Political figures don’t get to pick and choose who covers them, whether it’s in Norwalk or Washington, D.C. Media outlets must be allowed to do their job.”
Fortunately professional journalists like Thane Grauel are more driven by altruistic pursuit of the truth than by competitive self-interest. Thank you, Thane.
Since Election Night, I’ve had two Republicans reach out and tell me that they thoroughly disagree with Mr. Suda’s action. One said this had not been discussed by the Party, that my journalism is needed and respected; another said the action was “embarrassing.”
As it turns out, I wasn’t the only reporter in Connecticut turned away from an election night event. Hearst reporter Kaitlyn Krasselt was turned away from a Bob Stefanowski event, with prior coverage cited as the reason. The campaign relented after objections from all other media attending the event.
People have been asking me why I was turned away from the RTC’s Election Night party, so I emailed Suda the other day and asked. He did not reply.
The RTC was, of course, totally within its rights to admit or deny whoever they chose to what was still a private event. But just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
In the run-up to this election, NancyOnNorwalk wrote factual stories that upset Republicans, and others that upset Democrats. We heard complaints from partisans on both sides that some facts we reported – which, in their opinion, didn’t reflect well on their guy – should never have been reported.
With all due respect to those who were upset, we don’t make the facts, we just report them. Readers decide for themselves how the facts influence their votes. If you only want news that confirms your political beliefs, NoN is not the place for you – try MSNBC or Fox for their “opinion journalism.” Here in Norwalk we’ll continue our watchdog journalism, shining our light and bringing you accurate reports about your community, your government, and matters affecting your wallet.
Democracy — which depends for its survival on an informed electorate — needs a free press.