March 6, 2007
Written by C.N.
Many Asian American Democrats like me are still undecided about which candidate we should support — Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, or someone else. In this context, Senator Clinton’s campaign just acquired one strike against it when it barred Chinese language media journalists from a recent fundraiser luncheon:
A spokesperson from Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign apologized to the Chinese-language media after journalists were denied access to a Feb. 23 fundraising luncheon with Sen. Clinton in San Francisco. Event staff told reporters that the briefing was not open to “foreign press,” according to the Chinese-language World Journal and Sing Tao Daily. . . .
Howard Wolfson, spokesperson for the Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee, apologized to the World Journal the next day, saying this was a “learning lesson and a learning opportunity,” the World Journal reports. Wolfson told the World Journal that Sen. Clinton’s campaign understands the importance of Chinese media in the presidential election. The campaign will make sure that all media, including Chinese and ethnic media, has equal opportunity to report the news, he said.
“Certainly you are not foreign press,” he told the newspaper. . . . Portia Li, a writer for the World Journal in San Francisco, was one of the reporters denied access to the luncheon. According to her Feb. 24 report in the World Journal, several Chinese-language media reporters were initially told that because they had not arrived early, they could not enter the fundraiser.
When a World Journal reporter told Clinton’s staff that the Chinese media had not received a press release about the luncheon in advance, Li writes, a staff member from Clinton’s campaign said that the event was only for local media, not foreign press.
Li explained that Chinese-language media is an American media, she writes, but a spokesperson from Clinton’s staff told her that because Chinese newspapers like the World Journal have national distribution, they are not considered local media.
The Clinton campaign can use the excuse that the event was only for local media all it wants, but Asian Americans know that the real reason the Chinese American journalists were turned away was because the Clinton campaign is deathly afraid of being associated with foreigners who are perceived to be “un-American” and trying to illegally contribute to the campaign, which is the legacy of the disastrous 1996 fundraising scandal in which the Democratic party initially accepted campaign contributions that originated in China.
I thought that Clinton’s campaign was better than this — that it knew the difference between Chinese and Chinese American. Apparently not. Unfortunately, this does not bode well for her campaign’s general sensitivity to our community. However, there’s still time for the Clinton campaign to make amends and to show us that we are welcomed participants in their efforts.
Update: On March 25, Clinton held a special roundtable discussion with Asian American media outlets to apologize for this incident and to reiterate her commitment to Asian American issues and concerns.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Clinton Campaign Shuns Chinese American Media" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/03/clinton-campaign-shuns-chinese-american-media/> ().
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