Fox News host Glenn Beck now has something in common with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
They've barred media from their public appearances. Representatives for Palin, who spoke in China yesterday, refused to allow press at her event, saying they were trying to ensure the governor's "comfort."
A directive from Fox News Channel and Glenn Beck "and his representatives" have instructed a town near Seattle not to let anyone but a single local reporter near an event Saturday for the controversial Fox talker. No press credentials are to be allowed to be issued to anyone else.
The town's mayor -- Bud Norris of Mount Vernon, in Washington State -- told a local newspaper that the directive came from Fox, Beck and his associates, and that he didn't ask for a reason. Beck is speaking at a sold-out event Saturday, "Welcome Home Glenn Beck." Norris organized the fete.
A spokesman for Mercury Radio Arts, Beck's production company, told the Seattle Times that the decision not to allow press was made by organizers, not at their behest.
"Glenn is very excited about returning home and being a guest at the fundraiser [for Mount Vernon's Lincoln Theatre], but there is a slight misunderstanding as we are guests and are not running the event," Mercury spokesman Chris Balf was quoted as saying.
Mayor Norris has dubbed Saturday "Glenn Beck Day."
"It is a city event," Norris told the paper. "There's no question about that."
Then why bar reporters from attending?
"This is a ticketed event not open to general public," Mount Vernon City Attorney Kevin Rogerson told a reporter. "This is the mayor giving a symbolic key of recognition to a private individual."
A city council member who spoke to a reporter said that the event for Beck would involve additional police officers, which the city would pay for.
"If someone wants to bring a speaker to town and sell tickets, they've got the right to do it," Dale Ragan told the paper. "I don't believe in involving the city. There's going to have to be additional police officers on duty. There stands a chance of huge numbers of demonstrators on the premises. It just runs up all the costs...This is a very divisive, uproaring issue."
How have locals responded? Ragan was quoted as saying, "Of several hundred e-mails I have had, there are maybe three supporting it. All of them talk about the fact that they will shop no longer in Mount Vernon."
Palin, the former governor of Alaska, gave hundreds of financial big-hitters at the CLSA Investors' Forum in Hong Kong a wide-ranging speech that covered Alaska, international terrorism, US economic policy and trade with China.
Her performance, which was closed to the media, divided opinion.
Some of those who attended praised her forthright views on government social and economic intervention and others walked out early in disgust.
"She was brilliant," said a European delegate, on condition of anonymity.