|Rossi stands accused of coordinating with the BIAW, since he solicited funds for their PAC, funds which are now used on his behalf. This is clearly a violation of election law, though he did the solicitation before he was a declared candidate, so even though everyone knew he was going to run he thinks it's fine. Anyway, there was a big fight over this with lots of whining from Rossi, and the court basically said that he is going to be deposed before the election because injecting millions of dollars into the race illegally is kind of a big deal.
This is a PR black eye for Rossi in a tightly contested election, and Rossi is doing what he can to contain the damage. He asked that the deposition exclude media, a request the judge granted, so he can control the message. After the deposition, he is holding a press conference at his law firm, Buchanan Fobes Leitch & Kalzer, and since I figured 'hey, I'm press', I thought this would be a good time to learn more about Rossi's camapign.
Unfortunately, the fine folks at Buchanan Fobes Leitch & Kalzer didn't agree. I went to the press conference at 2112 Third Avenue, Suite 500, and followed a reporter into a conference room to wait for it to begin, a kind of holding pen for various reporters sitting in there reading the paper and taking notes. There, I started to see how the whole propaganda charade works. An unidentified pert blonde woman (update.. someone just told me it's Jill Straight, Rossi's press secretary) just beginning to lose the looks that allows her to be really successful in PR got chummy with the three reporters she knew. Here she is, refusing to make eye contact with me.
She clearly didn't know me, but had sized me up quickly as one of them damn liberals (or really just an outsider), and introduced herself with that sort of high school mean girl 'I thought I told you NOT to sit with us at lunch' tone, and asked who I was. We proceeded to have an extremely condensed 'I'm a blogger, you're not real media, yes I am I have 50,000 readers a day, well it's not on newsprint' argument, at which point she said 'You can argue all you want but I'm not going to change my position.' She then left in a huff. Here's a picture mid-huff.
After she left, I turned around to the three reporters in the conference room, figuring there would be some solidarity, and said 'Seriously?' When I'm with other bloggers doing reporting, they tend to stand up for one another's right to report public information. These reporters? Not so much. In response to my query, they meekly looked down. 'You're going to let them do ths? I just want to report on this press conference.' Again, they looked down so as to not make eye contact with the scary blogger. I continued to stare, mostly because awkward silences can be fun and because I was pissed. I had driven into Seattle for this? Finally, one of them said 'Well, this is an invitation only event, and it happens to us all the time.' Press conferences are generally not considered 'invitation-only events', but I suppose when they are held in Republican law firms the definition of words tends to change. To which I said 'Well when you get laid off, I hope you get to take advantage of some of that worker training you don't report on.' As I said, I was really angry.
Here are the reporters. I asked for their names, and the guy on the left said I'm not going to identify myself because I don't appreciate what you said about the layoffs'. (Update: Ok, I took this part out because it was rude, these reporters aren't to blame for their industry's situation)
I hope you get a sense of the awkward scene from the pictures below. (Update: The guy next to Porter is Bob Young of the Seattle Times.)
Just at that moment, huffy pert blonde woman came back with another representative of the firm, who said that a managing partner wanted me to leave. I took out my camera and began taking pictures of the reporters who wouldn't tell me their names, and one of the firm's reps said 'your camera isn't welcome in our law firm' and put her hand in front of my camera as I took the picture you see above.
It's funny, all I wanted was to get Rossi's side of the story. Instead I got to see how the Seattle press corps and Republican lawyers use a mixture of sluggish meek passive aggressiveness and high school mean girl tactics to protect their turf. The partners of the firm are Pat Buchanan, Duncan Fobes, Karen Kalzer, Charles Leitch, and Mike Patterson. I've emailed each of them and asked if one of them will explain me Rossi's side of the story, which is ultimately what I came for.
After I left, I talked to the labor protesters outside, who were from the state labor council. They directed me to the local Communications Workers Office a few doors down, who let me plug in and blog. I chatted with the staff a bit about the Employee Free Choice Act and health care, and then sat down to write this. What a difference it is between a Republican corporate law firm and a union office.
Update: Look, I'm not mocking Straight's looks, I'm mocking the fact that press flacks are judged by their looks. While you might not like what I wrote, the use of beauty to exert power is real and it rarely receives scrutiny.