- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 18, 2022

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ campaign rally in Ohio on Friday for Republican Senate candidate and author J.D. Vance is encountering opposition from news organizations who object to organizers’ unusual condition of requiring access to their video footage of the event.

Turning Point Action, a youth-focused conservative nonprofit founded by Trump supporter Charlie Kirk, is requiring any media covering the rally to agree to give the group “access to footage for archival and promotional purposes, upon request, and to know in what manner the footage will be utilized.”

Journalists say the restriction is extremely rare and a potential intrusion on press freedom.  Some say they won’t be covering the event as a result.

“Who is to say certain reporters wouldn’t be excluded and denied — despite having accurate and fair coverage?” Morgan Trau, a reporter for ABC affiliate WEWS in Cleveland, wrote on Twitter.

The Radio Television Digital News Association called for all restrictions on the event to be lifted.

“This only serves to hurt the public that journalists serve,” said the group’s executive director, Dan Shelley.

Monica Nieporte, president and executive director of the Ohio News Media Association, said the group doesn’t agree that rally organizers have “any standing to be asking for blanket access to the content that is created by journalists in exchange for permission to cover their event.”

“The journalists work for their media outlet and not for the Vance campaign,” she said in a statement. “Their content is owned by their employer. We strongly discourage our members from agreeing to any conditions which could lead to their content being censored or altered by a third party not affiliated with their media outlet.”

She said the Vance campaign “can and likely will hire its own videographer to document the event for the campaign and all of that footage can be later used by the campaign.”

“We would agree that if an individual person requests not to be filmed or recorded, journalists should honor that and respect any areas deemed ahead of time to be ‘off limits’ since this is not an open event held in a public space,” Ms. Nieporte said.

Turning Point Action said its policy is designed “to ensure that our media partners … are able to obtain great content while protecting the experience of our attendees.” A spokesman told The Washington Post that the clause prevents anyone from monetizing the event and that the group often waives such requirements for “legitimate press outlets that are covering the event in good faith.”

Mr. DeSantis, a potential candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, is branching out with high-profile endorsements this summer, including Mr. Vance. His status as a rising star in the GOP should give a boost to Mr. Vance, who is locked in a close race with Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan.

The Senate seat is being vacated by Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who is retiring.

Mr. Vance got another boost on Thursday when the Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee backed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, announced it is contributing a whopping $28 million to his campaign for TV and radio ads this fall. That’s the third-largest amount from the SLF for any Senate race, behind Georgia and Pennsylvania.

“Tim Ryan has been living a lie, spending millions unopposed to sell voters on a version of himself that doesn’t square with reality,” SLF President Steven Law told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, which first reported the PAC contribution. “That’s about to change as Ohioans get a clear picture of the real Ryan who votes down the line with (President Joe) Biden and (U.S. House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi in Washington.”

Mr. Ryan, who has called Mr. Vance and Mr. DeSantis “out-of-towners,” emailed another fundraising plea to supporters on Thursday.

“I’m not afraid of some schoolyard bullies — but Mitch McConnell has virtually unlimited resources to use against us and no shortage of right-wing puppets to fire up their extremist base,” the email stated.

A poll by Emerson College last week showed Mr. Vance leading Mr. Ryan by 3 percentage points, 45% to 42%. The margin of error was plus/minus 3.2 percentage points.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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