President Hu can’t suppress dissent in the United States like
he does in China, but the Bush adminstration is helping out where it can.
According to a CNN
Wire report, CNN producer Joe Vaccarello was removed by Secret Service officers
“from covering a private meeting Friday at Yale University after calling
out a question about whether Chinese President Hu Jintao had seen protesters
lined up outside”:
Vaccarello was told he had broken a rule against asking questions at the
“photo op,” during which Hu and Levin exchanged gifts and Hu met
with four students. Vaccarello was escorted from the building by members of
the Secret Service who were escorting people in and out of the building.
Vaccarello said he had not been told he could not ask questions at the event.
A Yale spokeswoman actually defended the producers’ removal, calling
the talk a “very intimate event” and claiming that “[e]very
other reporter knew the ground rules.”
But she said she could not be sure the CNN staffers were specifically informed
that questions would not be allowed at the event.
She argued the rule was “obvious.”
CNN staffers said they were not aware of the rule.
It is not unusual for journalists to ask questions at designated photo ops.
Often, the questions are ignored.
Already, President Bush has broken protocol by not holding the typical “press
availability” with Hu. Instead, the White House limited
the session to a few “pool” reporters, under a “mutual
agreement” with the Chinese, who did not want a more public setting.