By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The U.S. Attorney put a leash on the media this week when he took the highly unusual step of holding a meeting with reporters, but only after they agreed not to ask any questions about the Traffic Court indictments in person. Instead, he said he would only answer select questions submitted in advance.
“It’s very unusual, it’s the first time, I ever recall it ever happening,” Criminal Division Chief Peter Schenk said.
Schenk says the U.S. Attorney’s Office decided to limit media questions, fearing the prosecution’s case could be tainted with information from the Chadwick Report, released last November.
The report detailed the findings of Former prosecutor William Chadwick who led the traffic court probe on behalf of the State Supreme Court.
“We had to be careful that no questions asked would convey any information, which would have come from that Supreme Court report,” Schenk said.
Temple University Journalism Ethics professor Chris Harper says media organizations typically avoid prior restraints such as pre-screen questions.
“The news organizations want to have spontaneous answers to be able to follow up on initial questions.”
He says limiting restrictive protocols ensures the public has open access to information.