Radio host Nicole Sandler tried to ask a question to her congressional representative Allen West (FL-R) at a Town Hall last night. Instead of getting an answer to a follow up question about Medicare she got ejected and arrested. Later in the Broward County Florida jail she was put in solitary confinement and maced.
Remember all the Tea Party people who were ejected, arrested and put in jail for asking questions about health care in 2009? Remember all the stories on Fox of them being maced in jail? I wonder if they are still serving time.
I’m an email buddy of Nicole’s and I early this week I passed on some suggestions for asking questions at a typical town hall event where you line up to ask questions. That format is usually: one question, no follow ups, limited number of questioners, limit the time devoted to questions. Imagine my surprise this morning reading that Nicole was arrested for trying to ask a question. I felt guilty that I didn’t provide her my advice and strategy for what West’s “Town Hall Meeting” had become, a tightly controlled staged speech with filtered questions. Sorry Nicole.
I designed my team strategy of asking questions at a town hall to show well-behaved Americans asking honest questions and then being rebuffed by a recalcitrant representative. I forgot that the GOP doesn’t want to even be in the same area code with honest questions. When you can’t win the fight you fix the format.
People here at FDL probably know about all the methods politicians use to manage journalists and constituents but I found even educated people start accepting structures as normal when they are in fact designed to be limiting. Look at the above Town Hall questioning set up. It makes it easy for the politician. Even then, this set up was still too scary for West’s handlers so he got rid of the constituent’s microphones, limited the questions to written ones which were then selected by his staff and then read by them. Wow. Way to control the box West’s staff!
Now it may be obvious to us, but think about what happens when you force written questions and remove microphones. Say you wanted to follow up to a question that you have written that the staff selected and read. With no mic you have to shout to be heard. Suddenly you are a “heckler” instead of a constituent who wants an answer. As General Akbar might say, “It’s a trap!”
What was the Question Nicole wanted to ask?
One thing I wanted to know was what the question that West was so afraid to answer. From her interview on the Tom Hartmann show today here it is:
“How is privatizing Medicare SAVING Medicare? How does making something less efficient, more expensive save it?” I wanted to ask “Give me the name of an insurance company that would cover a 75 -year-old” with several ailments?”
That question got her arrested last night. The set up of the venue helped her look more like a shouting heckler than what she is, a constituent who wants an answer.
Nicole will be needing support from our community, if you have the means consider donating to her defense fund.
If anyone is interested in going to GOP Town Halls and asking questions let me know and I’ll detail my patent pending Spocko team question structure. But be advised, many GOP congressional handlers are switching to a written question format, no microphone rule and they would rather arrest people than answer a question.
You know they are running scared when they can’t even manage a handful of spoken questions for 10 minutes.