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Tallahassee press corps not happy with Rick Scott - Twitter war begins

Press corps skits one 

UPDATE - By Saturday morning still no ceasefire in the Twitter war.

There was a bit of Twitter fight  last night as members of the Tallahassee Press Corps fired off Tweets as they stood outside the governor's mansion in a standoff with Brian Burgess, Gov. Rick Scott's press secretary. (Samples of the Tweets are on the next page).

It was the latest in a continuing round of squabbles between the media and Scott's press office. In brief, Scott invited three top legislators to the mansion for a social dinner. Since these conversations frequently wind about being about potential legislation, Florida's open meetings laws require those conversations to be open to the public.

The press corps agreed to using pool reporters. Burgess agreed but only if he could pick the reporters from a list provided by the media. That was a step too far for the media which insists on a rotating pool list that does not allow the governor's office to arbitrarily choose reporters.

Tallahassee reporters pointed out that press pools are used daily by the White House but the administration does not choose which reporters are in the pool.

This led to a Twitter standoff with Burgess and several senior members of the press corps standing outside the governor's mansion.

 Meanwhile Burgess called a columnist from Sunshine State News and invited her to watch over the dinner giving her an exclusive.

 Here are few of the tweets from Thursday night. Among the cast of characters is Mike Bender of the St. Petersburg Times, Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald, Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel  and a guest appearance by Eric Jotkoff Florida Democratic Party spokesman

brianjburgess Brian Burgess @ @michaelcbender -what's unfair about us picking from list of 5 given the fact we can give exclusive anyway? At least you'd have some say.

brianjburgess Brian Burgess @ @MichaelCBender - The refusal to submit names seems rather stubborn in light of the fact that we gave exclusive instead. I don't get it.

brianjburgess Brian Burgess @ @Eric_Jotkoff - press corps will be even more apoplectic than tonight if they are replaced with web cams.

brianjburgess Brian Burgess @ @MichaelCBender - If the press submits the list, then both parties are playing a part in the selection process. What's not fair about that?

brianjburgess Brian Burgess @ @Eric_Jotkoff - next time maybe we will just live stream the whole thing for you Eric. Riveting to watch people chew and make small talk.

brianjburgess Brian Burgess @ @MichaelCBender - Where else in the US does the press corps insist on man-to-man coverage at the Governor's dinner table?

brianjburgess Brian Burgess And no laws broken RT @LopezCantera: RT @willweatherford: Great time with Governor Rick Scott tonier at mansion. He was a wonderful host!

brianjburgess Brian Burgess On the menu at the mansion: Mesquite Grilled Swordfish, Corn Macque Choux, Florida Strawberry Shortcake.

brianjburgess Brian Burgess @ @MaryEllenKlas - and we made it clear that you could pick any five and we'd pick from that list...#muchadoaboutnothing

brianjburgess Brian Burgess RT @adeslatte: It's not too cold sitting on the sidewalk outside Rick Scott's House. I am determined to find a legit news reason to be here.

It continued Friday morning - here are a couple of examples:

brianjburgess @ @michaelcbender - agree. Tweeps should know we are quite cordial in person and we are just having a discussion.

brianjburgess Brian Burgess @MichaelCBender - Can the Tallahassee Press Corps produce any pool rotation list used during the Crist Administration?

If the goal of the governor's press office is to stay on message, it is hard to understand how this confrontation helps that goal.

Stories, editorials, blogs and tweeting about all this is distraction that a new governor does not need.

Scott should not have to constantly deal with questions about whether or not he believes in, and is abiding by, Florida's constitutional requirement for open government.

As a media consultant, I would never put one of our clients in that position.

Burgess should accept a list of pool reporters from the press corps and then rotate that list - it will be easier and fairer for everyone.

And threats of replacing reporters with webcams will only stoke the flames more.

Photo from the Press Corps skits circa 1984.



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I hadn't done just a straight-out comedy in a long time, just letting an ensemble do really good character acting, having them carry the movie as in my earlier pictures.

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