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Upcoming J.D. Vance, Ron DeSantis Rally Imposes Bizarre Limits on Press Freedom

Among the restrictions? Turning Point USA can demand to review any journalist's footage of the rally.

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Photo: AP Photo/Aaron Doster (AP)

An upcoming Turning Point Action rally set to be headlined by J.D. Vance, the GOP candidate running for Ohio’s empty Senate seat, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is making headlines before it’s even occurred, due to the laundry list of restrictions organizers intend to impose on journalists hoping to cover it.

The policies Turning Point Action is seeking to enforce at the Friday appearance near Youngstown, Ohio—including revoking media credentials from journalists should they ignore requests not to film speakers, attendees and staff—stand in stark contrast to the typical operation of political rallies.

“This is not a standard operating procedure for an open press event in any regard,” Sheila Angelo, the former director of press advance for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign told Jezebel. “A closed press event is one thing, but to have an open rally with such restrictive guidelines is a cause for concern.”

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News 5 Cleveland published the entire catalog of restrictions, which include:

  • Turning Point Action and its contracted vendors reserve the right to have access to footage for archival and promotional purposes, upon request, and to know in what manner the footage will be utilized.
  • No video or audio recording is allowed of the footage or media shown on the screens during the event.
  • If attendees, speakers, staff, or other talent and/or crew requests that you not film them, please adhere to this request or your media credentials will be revoked and you and your crew will be required to leave the premises.
  • The privilege to receive media credentials and cover the Event does not extend to all venue areas and/or panels and events. A list of approved venue areas, panels, and/or events will be made available the day prior to the event. Turning Point Action reserves the right to grant additional access on a case-by-case and outlet-by-outlet basis.
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The news comes just weeks after Vance’s comments about remaining in abusive marriages, but if I had to speculate, that’s likely not the only reason for the strict directive.

Turning Point Action is the advocacy arm of Turning Point, a conservative student group that gained notoriety during former President Donald Trump’s administration, and, according to an Open Secrets report published last month, was one of nine groups listed as “participating” in the Stop The Steal rally that preceded the Capitol riot. Worse yet, a “VIP Advisor” to Trump, who ProPublica reported played an “active role” in the Jan. 6 rally, allegedly “parked funds” with Turning Point and two other groups prior to the rally.

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Of course, I’d be remiss not to mention that this isn’t the first time Turning Point has been the subject of damning media coverage. In 2017, the New Yorker published a scathing feature about Turning Point that focused on allegations of illegal campaign activity and racial bias, included screenshots from the former national field director in which she wrote that she “hated black people.” The article also detailed how Ginni Thomas, whose husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has an ostensibly apolitical role, worked with former TP employees on behalf of Republican presidential candidates in 2016.

Is cavorting with arguably corrupt entities all that surprising for GOP goons like Vance and DeSantis? Of course not. And yet it appears they’re still worried about the press capturing their bad side.

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A representative for Turning Point Action could not be reached for comment.