CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) — The Iowa Republican Party blocked access to KCRG-TV9 to cover its election night political rally in an apparent effort to blacklist a news outlet for its coverage.
The Iowa Republican Party hosts a GOP victory party at the Hilton in downtown Des Moines on election night, similar to events held each election night. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Sen. Chuck Grassley and other top candidates and leaders are due to watch election results and talk to supporters on election night.
KCRG-TV9 was informed on Monday afternoon that it had not been granted accreditation for the event, citing capacity. Iowa GOP spokesman Kollin Crompton told KCRG-TV9 that “priority was given to Des Moines media,” which would allow KCRG to take a speech stream at the event. from an affiliate station in Des Moines.
However, KCRG confirmed that local media from outside the Des Moines area had received credentials, which means capacity limits and favoring Des Moines media does not fully explain why the party has selectively blocked KCRG’s access to the event.
“This is unprecedented action in my 20-plus years in the television news, including 17 in Iowa,” said KCRG-TV9 news director Adam Carros. “I can’t remember a single instance where a political party blocked a local television or newspaper from their election night in Iowa.”
“Any time a political party blocks access to journalists, for whatever reason, it only harms the public,” said Dan Shelley, executive director of the Radio, Television, Digital News Association. “They really prevent the public from gaining insight and understanding of the important issues and ideas surrounding our government and its elected leaders.”
While KCRG-TV9 will be able to access a stream of speeches from established relationships with other media outlets, the move bars KCRG reporters from asking Republicans questions at the event or observing and sharing ideas and events outside of what happens on stage. . It also blocks KCRG from sharing its coverage with sister stations in 6 other Iowa TV markets as it had planned, thereby blocking audience coverage from several TV stations.
The action comes after the Iowa Republican Party repeatedly criticized, questioned or blocked KCRG’s political coverage, particularly that of the fact checks that KCRG-TV9 performs on political ads. At least twice, KCRG-TV9 has rated Republican candidates’ ads as an “F” – one on an ad where Republican Brenna Bird claimed Attorney General Tom Miller let a convicted sex offender out of jail because of a change of sex and one on an advertisement. where Republican Bobby Kaufmann accused former Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek of allowing Black Lives Matter rioters to deface Kinnick Stadium. Kaufmann is the son of Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann
The GOP also ignored requests to join the station’s previews on legislative issues and races. After a story by KCRG-TV9 about some candidates, particularly two Republicans, taking advantage of a loophole in Iowa’s residency requirements to run in legislative precincts, Crompton said “KCRG has become a news outlet for Democrats”.
“Quite simply, there’s no reason to believe that decision was based on ability,” Carros said. “Based on previous years of coverage of these events, including in the same venue, capacity has never been an issue for local television or print media, as evidenced by other outlets with access to this year’s GOP event. I have every reason to believe that this is political retribution for our fact-checking and other reporting that the party has found unfavorable. No one at party central contacted me to discuss their frustrations prior to taking this step nor did they respond to my previous offers to discuss their frustration with a particular story or our news coverage in general. . I have been able to have these discussions frequently over the years with campaigns and candidates from both parties to both build these relationships and improve our coverage.
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