• Rich Klein

EDITORIAL: White House Official Wrong To Stop Molinaro From Speaking To Media

Congressional District 19 candidate Marcus Molinaro said today in a tweet that a White House staffer urged the Republican Dutchess County executive not to speak with the media at an event in Poughkeepsie, where President Joe Biden was touting a federal program that will help companies like IBM produce computer chips here in the U.S.

In our view, it's unacceptable for ANY government official (or public relations representative) to ask someone not to speak to the media who may be a political opponent or who might have an opposing viewpoint. I can say this as someone who has worked in PR and crisis communications for 35 years.

The official identified by Molinaro was Gabe Amo, special assistant to the president and deputy director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Molinaro, of course, was invited by the White House to the event at IBM. In this case, it seems that the White House did not want opposing views to get into media stories about Biden's visit to the region on Thursday.

Whatever the differences between Molinaro and his opponent, Dem Josh Riley (and previous opponent, Pat Ryan), I believe both Dem candidates would not approve of any attempt by the White House to muzzle Molinaro in his home county or anywhere else - even if what Molinaro has to say is deeply critical of Democratic policies.

We know these races are getting ugly with the attacks escalating. And, we wish they were more civil and focused on the issues that matter to voters.

But if Americans truly want to preserve democracy, it's up to all of us - Republicans and Democrats - to promote the free exchange of ideas that are often communicated through the media, including at events like the one held in Poughkeepsie.

I credit Molinaro, Riley and Ryan for giving in-depth interviews with The SullivanTimes and other media outlets, even when the questions at times can be probing and make candidates uncomfortable.

We'd like to believe that what happened yesterday in Dutchess County was the result of an inexperienced White House media handler. But Amo worked in the Obama Administration in a similar position, as well as on multiple other political campaigns in the past 15 years.

There's a place in our democracy to promote your candidate/client messaging to influence the news cycle. There's no place in our democracy to prevent political opponents from speaking to the press.