The United States Department of Justice says it welcomes all journalists into their press conferences as long as they follow a short list of criteria listed on its website.
However, that turned out to be a lie as a pair of Portland journalists learned earlier this week.
The journalists were from Flossin Media, a black-owned, Portland-based digital magazine founded in 2004 that covers social justice issues as well as other general interest issues.
On Tuesday, they were trying to enter a press conference in Portland where United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions was going to denounce sanctuary cities like Portland who have refused to cooperate with federal officials in deporting undocumented immigrants.
Flossin Media journalist Michele Darr said she emailed Sessions’ press secretary, Devin O’Malley, a day earlier to RSVP for the press conference.
And O’Malley responded by asking Darr a series of questions about what type of stories they have published during the previous six months, she said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.
Darr told PINAC that she asked other Portland media outlets if they had to answer similar questions, but was told no, that they only had to RSVP.
However, Darr was under the impression that Flossin Media would be placed on the list because she complied with the following guidelines listed on the USDOJ website, emailing O’Malley the required information.
However, when Darr tried to enter the press conference, Homeland Security officers said they were not on the list as you can see in her video.
Flossin Media photographer and videographer Hailei Aberson-Holford was also denied access to the press conference.
Meanwhile, countless other journalists were being allowed inside as Darr remained professional but persistent while standing in the rain.
According to its website, Flossing Media owns and operates within print, video, epic events, street teams, graphic design, digital distribution, online social marketing, and apparel outlets. Flossin Media specializes in strategically marketing to businesses and consumers in the multicultural marketplace.
“I do plan to tie this up as much as possible and as much as I can to get them to be accountable from the top down because I RSVP’d,” Darr said in her video while live streaming to Facebook.
“I did exactly what I needed to do to be allowed as a member of the media but it appears they only let certain media and that is probably the same media that regards them favorably, well, that wouldn’t be me, never has been me, and they know that, so I’m assuming that is the reason I am being boycotted from being in here.”
Darr spoke with an ACLU attorney on the day of the incident and was told that the denial is a First Amendment violation. She plans to speak to an attorney about how to proceed.
PINAC Publisher Carlos Miller contributed to this report.