Outrageous violation

As reported in last week’s SN&R, Congresswoman Doris Matsui’s district office in the federal building at 9th and I streets in Sacramento refused to allow a photographer for this newspaper to enter her office to take news photographs of the anti-war protesters conducting a sit-in against funding of the Iraq war. According to the protesters, this obstruction of news coverage is not confined to SN&R, but has blocked other media as well.

This is an outrageous practice on the part of Matsui and her handlers, and should immediately be reversed. Her congressional office is funded by the taxpayers, and she and her coterie of handlers serve there only with the electoral permission of the people of her district. Blocking coverage of the interaction between her office and a significant group of her constituents on a life and death, war and peace issue is a violation of the public trust granted her with the congressional office.

While one almost automatically reaches to compare Matsui’s management of the media with a style long practiced by dictatorial and totalitarian regimes throughout history, there is an even more contemporary and chilling parallel to be made. The refusal of President George W. Bush and his administration to allow news photographers to take pictures of the coffins of American service men and women arriving back at Dover Air Force Base is a similar effort to avoid exposing the American people to aspects of the Iraq war judged inconvenient for the political class.

We only hope that Matsui will rapidly realize that she has been given some terrible advice by some overly sycophantic staff, re-embrace the importance of a free press and reverse this political malpractice.