- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 1, 2015

New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters asked Democratic lawmakers on Friday why the press at the House Democratic Caucus Retreat in Philadelphia was being so closely monitored by security, with some journalists even being followed to the bathroom.

“At times for the reporters here, it seems like this has been like a police state,” Mr. Peters said in Friday’s briefing, Mediaite reported. “At your — the caucus’s — direction, staff has been extremely heavy-handed, following reporters to the bathroom at times. … We’ve been escorted everywhere we’ve gone.”

“The Republicans haven’t operated like this,” the reporter added, asking Democrats if all the “heavy-handedness” is really necessary.

California Rep. Xavier Becerra denied that lawmakers gave any direction to follow journalists to the bathroom, asking Mr. Peters to list the names of anyone who carried out that protocol.

“They said that they were reporting at the direction of the caucus, and Capitol Police said the same thing,” Mr. Peters said.

“Get names, because that wasn’t at the direction of the caucus,” Mr. Becerra said.

South Carolina Rep. James E. Clyburn stressed the importance of security at the event, seeing as how the president and vice president were both in attendance, Mediaite reported.

Politico reports that journalists were escorted to and from the bathrooms and lobby and were barred from entering the hotel outside of scheduled events, even if they were invited by a member of Congress.

Mr. Peters said: “I was an invited guest into this hotel, into the restaurant of the hotel. The staff from the Democratic caucus refused to let me into the hotel, and the Capitol Police told me to leave, even after the congressman went to them and said ‘No, he is my invited guest.’”

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