Latest Miller goof a doozy


There is something decidedly troublesome – even paranoid – about U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller’s private security guards putting the editor of the Alaska Dispatch in handcuffs at a town hall meeting in a school.

A rational person would be wondering whether Miller and his campaign have lost their minds; whether an anti-media meltdown is under way; whether Miller’s head has exploded in a delusional starburst. Why else would a candidate for the U.S. Senate allow something so stupid to get so far out of hand?
Hopfinger, who was trying to ask Miller why he was disciplined when he worked as a part-time lawyer for the Fairbanks North Star Borough, was bagged by the private security guards in a Central Middle School hallway until Anchorage cops ordered his release. The guards also tried to block other reporters from talking to Hopfinger and even threatened to arrest them, witnesses said.

The private guards, the Anchorage Daily News reported this morning, accused Hopfinder of trespassing at a public event. How that can be is a mystery to me. Hopfinger, who has not been charged, says he was only trying to get a statement from Miller. As Miller walked away, Hopfinger says he found himself surrounded by Miller supporters and security and he felt threatened. He pushed one man away and the guards grabbed him. One took his small video camera. Hopfinger says when he got it back, the video covering the arrest was missing.

Miller then released a statement titled “Liberal Blogger ‘Loses It’ at Town Hall Meeting.” It said Hopfinger was an “irrational blogger” who assaulted someone while trying to “create a publicity stunt.”

Good grief. Are you kidding me? Cue the whackjobs. You can almost see Miller and his campaign advisers huddling in a dark corner somewhere, trying to figure their next dumb move.

“Listen,” one asks, “how can we make this blogger thing worse than it already is?”

I know, I know, says another. Let’s call the guy irrational and blame the news media for being out to get us. Oh, and we’ll get him accused of stalking and being part of a political attack.

What Hopfinger wanted – along with the other major news outlets in the state – was entirely rational. All Miller had to do was answer the simple question or keep walking. There certainly was no reason for security to surround Hopfinger or take his camera. But apparently Miller thinks a guy running for the Senate does not have to answer questions and can do whatever he wants. Just ask him.

“We’ve drawn a line in the sand,” Miller told reporters last week. “You can ask me about background, you can ask me about personal issues, I’m not going to answer them. I’m not. This is about the issues. …”

Issues, I must point out, that Miller thinks are important. He apparently does not understand that when somebody runs for one of the highest offices in the land, he or she really does not get the option of selecting which questions will be asked. He owes it to Alaskans to answer virtually any question posed to him and the idea that he should have a personal life that is off-limits is utter claptrap. He wants Alaskans to make him a public person; now is the time to act like one.

He instead has decided that attacking the media is a winning strategy and blaming them for his problems is the answer. It is not. It is simply a diversion, a sophomoric bid to buy time. He figures if he can stay clammed up for a few more weeks, it will all be over. His tactics smack of Sarah Palin.

We can only hope that the Alaska Dispatch, the Fairbanks News-Miner and the Anchorage Daily News get a judge to spring Miller’s full borough personnel file before the election. It is beyond time for answers.

His reluctance to release the borough information – and he could, at any time, if he wanted to – leads normal folks to believe there must be something ugly in them.

The only two questions anybody in the news media should be asking Miller until election day are these: Why, exactly, were you disciplined when you worked as a part-time lawyer for the Fairbanks North Star Borough? Will you give us the documents?

Anything else gives him a free pass. Alaska deserves better.
Paul Jenkins is editor of the Anchorage Daily Planet.