House Speaker William O’Brien barred reporters from the Concord Monitor from a state house press conference he called to discuss welfare abuse.
As reporters from about a half-dozen news outfits were welcomed to Speaker O’Brien’s office, reporters from the capital city’s only newspaper were blocked at the door by O’Brien spokesperson Shannon Bettencourt.
"Annmarie, Matt; not my rules. You know the issue."
"Why can’t we come in?"
The issue is, at least in part, an editorial cartoon the Monitor ran earlier this year. It featured Speaker O’Brien sporting a Napoleonic hat and Hitler-style mustache. The drawing was captioned, “If the moustache fits." It was published after a GOP lawmaker mocked O’Brien by saying “Sieg Heil” from the well of the house during a disagreement.
During today's briefing, Speaker O’Brien said he had no comment on his decision to exclude Monitor reporters.
Later, Shannnon Bettencourt said in a statement that “When the Concord Monitor proves they have chosen to become a responsible media outlet, we’ll be happy to invite them to future media events.” Monitor editor Felice Belman said in her own statement that the Monitor sent reporters to cover the Speaker’s thoughts on proper use of EBT cards and said she hadn’t been told why the reporters were barred from the event.