Joe Biden's 2020 staffers accused of harassing reporters on the campaign trail
Numerous reporters have come forward with concerns regarding the treatment they have received from the staff of former Vice President Joe Biden just two weeks after he launched his 2020 bid.
In a conversation with Fox News, freelance journalist Marcus DiPaola described his interactions with Biden's campaign staffers as "out of line, totally" after he covered the Iowa rally last week and tweeted the accounts of different reporters of how they were treated by them.
DiPaola learned from one unidentified reporter how a member of Biden's campaign told them to leave while covering the campaign events in Iowa. The campaign staffer, who said she was just doing her job, also took a photo of the reporter when they refused to leave.
Another incident was reported by a different reporter when a Biden staffer "physically put their body" between them and the 2020 Democratic frontrunner despite standing considerably far from the candidate.
"This second reporter tells me the staffer physically invaded their space to the point that the reporter could smell the staffer's ponytail," DiPaola tweeted.
DiPaola claimed a third reporter told him he had been physically blocked by a female staffer from approaching Biden, and who also "blocked his camera shot by putting up her hands."
DiPaola also recalled another episode when he and a group of other reporters were staking out an exit on a public lot during a campaign stop when members of Biden's team approached them and told them they had to leave and couldn't ask questions to Biden.
"If you want a secure exit for a candidate, you buy a venue where you can get in and out of the car while you're on private property. But when you're on public property, you have no expectation of privacy or ability to restrict my movement," DiPaola told Fox News.
That said, this is not the first time Biden's team has allegedly interfered with journalists.
University of Maryland graduate student Jeremy Barr was working as a political reporter for the school's Capital News Service in 2013. At the time, he was assigned to cover a news conference on a domestic violence grant program -- which he did. But after the conference concluded, he was told by a Biden staffer to delete the photos he had captured.
"Much to my surprise, she told me that I had violated protocol by sitting in the general audience section rather than at the press table at the back of the room. As such, she said, I had gained an unfair advantage over the rest of the corps," Barr wrote in a piece for Poynter. "I protested — there was no signage, I was given no seating guidance, and I wore my press credentials at all times — but she was forceful. 'I need to watch you delete those photos. All of them.' She even made me flip through the photos on my iPhone, probably concluding rightfully that I had an adorable baby niece. But no, no secret snapshots of the vice president."
According to Barr, the staffer "essentially held me against my will" while she went to ask her supervisor he should delete audio recordings as well. Fortunately, he was able to retain them.
Barr later received an apology from Biden's press office for what transpired.
In 2011, a journalist from the Orlando Sentinel was disallowed from interacting with guests during a Florida fundraiser for then-Sen. Bill Nelson, whom Biden was backing.
Veteran reporter Scott Powers told The Drudge Report that a "low level" staffer and led him into a storage closet he described as a "temporary prison" until Biden arrived at the podium.
"When I'd stick my head out, they'd say, 'Not yet. We'll let you know when you can come out,'" Powers told Drudge at the time.
The then vice president's press secretary later issued an apology to Powers, who claimed he was held in the closet for an hour and fifteen minutes.
"This was the unfortunate mistake of an inexperienced staffer and the vice president's office has made sure it will never happen again," Biden spokesperson Elizabeth Alexander said. According to her, members of the press were often placed in a "hold room" at their events, but clarified that "a hold room, however, should not be a storage room."
"We push for answers on things that matter to a lot of different people," DiPaola told Fox News, urging Biden and his campaign to honor the "sacred democratic tradition" of press freedom. "Don't try to subvert the sacred democratic tradition of the press asking questions of candidates."