Vice President Joe Biden’s staff may have apologized for stowing a news reporter away in a closet during a fundraiser last weekend, but Saturday’s incident wasn’t the first time the VP kept a member of the media stuck in a tiny room during an event.
In March 2010, Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton was on duty to cover a Biden fundraiser in Maryland, and was forced to wait for an hour in what he jokingly called a “cage” that was guarded by the vice president’s staff.
“Your pool reporter awaited the beginning of the event by sitting in a 5-by-8 foot, Asian-themed room with mirrors on the walls and family photos in small frames,” Fenton wrote in his pool report during a fundraiser hosted by David S. Cordish, a Baltimore-based real estate developer. “Cordish three times brought guests, including VPOTUS, into the room to show off a collection of books about opera singer Rosa Ponselle.”
Fenton highlighted his experience in a post on Twitter Sunday night, after Orlando Sentinel reporter Scott Powers sent pictures to the Drudge Report from a storage closet he was forced to work from during a Biden fundraiser for Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.
Powers declined an interview Monday, telling TheDC that he was “trying to climb back into my closet.”
“Story getting lot of play on Drudge, though I had to sit in closed closet during Biden app. at Cordish fundraiser too,” Fenton said via Twitter.
Fenton was allowed to leave the room once to hear Biden’s speech, and was ushered out again the moment he finished.
“The door was closed the whole time, and far from an apology the host came into the room three times and I was expected to stand against the room the whole time as he showed off his collection of books about this opera singer,” Fenton told The Daily Caller.
“It was a mirrored room, and I’m standing there and I can’t hear anything and I don’t know what’s going on outside. And the door pops open and I assume it’s one of his staffers coming in to give me an update and all the sudden the vice president walks in,” Fenton explained. “He stood there, sort of looked at me. He didn’t nod at me or say hi or anything. He hosted, and then he showed him this little book and that was that.”
Fenton added that he understood that it was a private event at a donor’s residence, so it was understandable that the vice president’s staff didn’t want a reporter listening in on conversations during cocktail hour, but said it probably would have been easier to just let him show up for the speech instead of waiting alone in a “room that could fit three people” for an hour.
It’s anyone’s guess how many other reporters have had a similar experience, he said.
“If it happened to me a year ago, and it happened to this guy last week, it seems like this happens every time somebody goes to one of these things, but I can only guess,” he said.
A Biden spokesman said it is common that pool reporters wait in holding rooms during private events.
“It is standard policy for the vice president’s office that a print pooler cover the speaking program at fundraisers. This has been the consistent policy throughout the Administration,” said Elizabeth Alexander, the vice president’s press secretary. “At times, these fundraisers are at private homes and ‘hold rooms’ are provided for pool reporters to wait for the speaking program to commence.”