Baltimore Mayor Bans WYPR Reporter From Weekly Press Briefings
October 12, 2016 at 12:27 PM (PT)
A reporter for YOUR PUBLIC RADIO CORP. noncommercial News-Talk WYPR/BALTIMORE has been indefinitely banned from BALTIMORE Mayor STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE's weekly WEDNESDAY press conferences after he asked a question about procedures for policy changes that she did not answer.
BALTIMORE BREW's MARK REUTTER reports that WYPR News Dir. JOEL MCCORD received an email from the Mayor's Press Secretary ANTHONY MCCARTHY with a notice attached that read, "Access to the Mayor's Post Board of Estimates Press Conference is granted at the Mayor's discretion. Please take notice that effective immediately, the Mayor has declined to grant her discretionary access to KENNETH BURNS of WYPR to attend these press conferences. Accordingly, Mr. BURNS will no longer be granted access to such news conferences indefinitely."
No reason was given for the ban, which MCCARTHY told MCCORD does not prevent another reporter from WYPR from attending the press conferences. At last week's conference, BURNS asked whether the Mayor had to go to the state government to get policies changed at the BALTIMORE Police Department, a question for which the Mayor said she did not have an answer.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE is leaving office as of DECEMBER 2nd; she told the BALTIMORE SUN that BURNS can attend other press conferences but not the WEDNESDAY briefings, saying, "I believe in the freedom of the press, and Mr. BURNS is welcome at any of my public press events. WYPR is welcome to all of them. This is a very close-quarters press event, and Mr. BURNS has consistently exhibited verbally and physically threatening behavior, particularly to my staff." The Mayor did not provide THE SUN with evidence to support the latter claims, which BURNS called "absolutely baseless."
"I'm really dismayed that it's come to this, and at the same time angry that an elected official thinks she can pick and choose who covers her," MCCORD told THE SUN. "I know KENNY's not the cuddliest reporter, but it's beyond my comprehension that an elected official thinks that she can do that."