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Lantern reporter told to leave Rob Portman’s event on Ohio State’s campus

Senator Rob Portman speaks to students at the US Bank Theater Conference Center at Ohio Union on September 1. Credit: Joely Friedman / Lantern Reporter

Senator Rob Portman speaks to students at the US Bank Conference Theater at the Ohio Union on September 1, 2015. Credit: Joely Friedman / Lantern Reporter

A reporter for The Lantern was asked to leave an event featuring Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) at Ohio State’s Saxbe Auditorium in the Moritz College of Law on Friday afternoon.

Leah McClure, a third-year in journalism and economics and a student enrolled in The Lantern independent study course, said she was asked to leave by Moritz per the request of Portman’s communication team.

“I asked (chief communications officer for the Moritz College of Law Barbara Peck) if I would be allowed to cover the event for The Lantern, and she said that she was pretty sure that would be fine but that she would have to double check with Rob Portman’s team,” McClure said. “About 15 minutes later, another person who works for Moritz College of Law came in and asked me to leave.”

In a subsequent interview, Peck said the event at OSU was not open to the media and that the Portman campaign did not want media there.

She added that a press advisory would normally be sent out prior to events occurring at the college.

“Usually we discuss it in advance. Normally we work that out in advance, and we would send out an advisory, saying, ‘Hey, this person is coming,’” Peck said.

“Anytime we have a speaker come in, we work out in advance who’s invited, whether media is invited, whether we’re tweeting, whether we’re podcasting. You know, what are the parameters for the speech?”

Kevin Smith, a spokesman for Sen. Portman, said the senator attended the university event to talk about drug addiction and human trafficking. He added that “it was a closed-press event.”

Portman was on campus to participate as a speaker in the first of two Congressional Conversations events, which are part of a series hosted by the Moritz College of Law and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.

The series is set to focus on improving “legislative process and American governance, public policy, and public service,” according to the OSU Democracy Studies website.

“Students will have an opportunity to engage with and learn from legislative leaders,” a description of the series on the website stated. It also said that registration was required for the event and available online.

McClure said she did not register prior to attending the event. However, she said she was disappointed with the decision, both as a reporter and a student.

“He seemed like he was there to talk to students and to engage with them about the government,” she said. “I got kicked out and I wasn’t allowed to be there. I’m trying to inform students, too, as a reporter.”

Following the event, The Lantern received an email from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs regarding the second Congressional Conversations event featuring Democratic Minority Leader for the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi on April 22.

The email stated that the college was unaware of any press restrictions for the Portman event, but assured that there would be none at the Pelosi event.

Correction, 8:50 p.m., April 8: A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled Saxbe Auditorium.


  1. Students' friend

    Democracy studies? Really? Tell that to Portman and his “team”? Is OSU an educational institution with student journalists? If yes, Portman must distinguish them from “the media.” Go bucks!

  2. If it was a private event, I don’t see the problem with asking a reporter to leave. Even one with the imprimatur of being a student reporter associated with the prestigious The Lantern.

    The purpose of privacy is to be able to say things that are so incredibly nuanced — so needful of careful, detailed, historical explanation — that, if reported in the manner of most journalism, is likely to be misunderstood.

    Just look at the public’s low approval view of the media — now called “the dishonest media” (not all of it deserved) — to know what I’m talking about.

    • Oh for sure man

      ah yea i remember in 2009 the UN passed that resolution renaming ‘the media’ to ‘the dishonest media’

  3. Rob Portman’s purpose in Life is to represent the 1%. He knows that one clever stratagem to maintain the privileges of the 1%, including of course their lopsided share of national income, is to enforce secrecy. That is the reason the reporter was asked to leave. It was purely a strategic decision by Portman and his handlers to ensure that no potentially useful tidbits of info “leak” out and get “publicized”. You gotta keep in mind: successfully operating a system such as ours where a relative handful of families walks away with a quarter of national output, year after year, requires substantial coordination, control, manipulation, propaganda and a hefty dose of secrecy. The media, everywhere and always, interferes with “coordination, control, secrecy, etc.” because the media introduces a destabilizing force, namely “information”. It’s almost a comedy some of these antics like throwing out a reporter, threatening expulsions of students who open their big mouth and on and on ad naseum. You have to wonder who exactly the politicians think they’re fooling? Hopefully, Bernie Sanders will be elected. The next best choice is Donald Trump as clearly he will completely destroy the country and then we can start from scratch. Electing Clinton will just prolong the secular decline we have seen for a couple decades now.

    • Nice liberal talking points about a man you know nothing about. Socialism is what you want? Go visit Greece, China and every other socialistic failure.

  4. You guys are soft lol

  5. Embarrassed OSU alum

    Why are you whining? You didn’t do your duty to get media credentials before the event. That’s on the lantern not on Portman. As any journalist should know. This is one of the most embarrassing lantern stories I’ve ever read. And it’s just firing up people who don’t understand you need to get permission to attend events, you can’t just show up. Do your duty as a journalist or please switch your major.

    • @Embarrassed OSU alum,

      You appear to be “whining” with the rest of them on here.

      Do you think the student was kicked out because she didn’t register or because of her affiliation with The Lantern (an affiliation which is only through a class she elected to take because of her major)?

      My personal opinion is that if she was simply a student, not one who happened to be a journalism major, that Portman wouldn’t have cared. I don’t think students should be judged based on their choice of major.

      Your remarks embarrass me as an OSU alum.

      • Today's kids are soft

        Wrong. She didn’t register as a student either. She just showed up unprepared and shouldn’t be rewarded for it.

  6. Note: Secretary Clinton, Senators Sanders and Cruz, and other candidates have this as well with very high profile press recently. To imply bad motives without proof is wrong. To demand candidates or politicians allow full access to their lives is wrong as well.

    • Reporting on what people say in a talk that has registration open to OSU faculty and staff is a far cry from “full access to their lives”. He’s not giving a talk to his donors or supporters.

  7. A reporter turned away from an event the didn’t have press attended. This is news? She didn’t register and if she did she could of attended as a student. Why is this news and are any of you going to make it after college when you figure out rules aren’t changed because your are ” upset” or you feel you are special and your agenda isn’t being met. Wake up.

  8. If the event wasn’t full, I see no reason to kick her from the event. What was going on during the talk that Mr. Portman didn’t want to be reported on? The question isn’t if they had the authority to remove her from the talk, but why they wanted to.

  9. What a surprise? A Republican hypocrite hiding his agenda.

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