[Guest post by DRJ]
On Tuesday, reporter David Singleton of the Scranton (PA) Times Leader reported that a man at a Sarah Palin rally said “Kill him” as a Republican Congressional candidate warmed up the crowd with anti-Obama rhetoric:
[Republican Congressional candidate] Chris Hackett addressed the increasingly feisty crowd as they await the arrival of Gov. Palin.
Each time the Republican candidate for the seat in the 10th Congressional District mentioned Barack Obama the crowd booed loudly.
One man screamed “kill him!”
Supporters have been noted shouting “kill him,” “terrorist,” “off with his head” and other equally incendiary terms about Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Others have directly suggested Mr. Obama is a Muslim, which he is not, or a traitor. Some comments even drew rebuke from Republican presidential nominee John McCain.
Other than the lone man, there were no other such outbursts.“
Now we learn Singleton may have special powers of observation that others lack since the Secret Service announced no one other than the reporter heard anyone yell “Kill him” at the Palin rally:
“The agent in charge of the Secret Service field office in Scranton said allegations that someone yelled “kill him” when presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s name was mentioned during Tuesday’s Sarah Palin rally are unfounded.
Agent Bill Slavoski said he was in the audience along with an undisclosed number of Secret Service agents and not one heard the comment.
“I was baffled,” he said after reading the report.
He said the agency conducted an investigation Wednesday, and could not find one person to corroborate the allegation other than Singleton.
Slavoski said more than 20 non-security agents were interviewed Wednesday, all of whom were at the Republican vice presidential candidate’s rally at the Riverfront Sports Complex.
“We have yet to find someone to back up the story,” Slavoski said. “We had people all over and we have yet to find anyone who said they heard it.”
Singleton and the Times Leader stand by the story but I’m not surprised. In addition to being smarter than everyone else, maybe reporters like Singleton have better hearing, too.
UPDATE: Dana Milbank says the Secret Service is actively preventing the media from accessing supporters at Palin’s rallies:
“I wasn’t at the Scranton event, but I have to say the Secret Service is in dangerous territory here. In cooperation with the Palin campaign, they’ve started preventing reporters from leaving the press section to interview people in the crowd. This is a serious violation of their duty — protecting the protectee — and gets into assisting with the political aspirations of the candidate. It also often makes it impossible for reporters to get into the crowd to question the people who say vulgar things. So they prevent reporters from getting near the people doing the shouting, then claim it’s unfounded because the reporters can’t get close enough to identify the person.“
Milbank also claimed the local paper reported two instances of someone yelling “Kill him.” Odd, that, since the original report specifically said there was only one outburst.