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Travis Taylor, communications director for Republican governor candidate Duke Aiona, was not happy to see a campaign sticker for Neil Abercrombie inside Aiona’s campaign headquarters on Nimitz Highway.
It didn’t help that the “Neil” sticker was on a KHON2 TV camera.
“Can you do that?” Taylor asked incredulously of the two reporters in the room.
The short answer is, “You shouldn’t.”
The kerfuffle began when a 1 p.m. press conference Thursday called by Aiona and running mate Lynn Finnegan was late in getting started.
The candidates were rushing to get to Aiona-Finnegan HQ, so the TV crew had stepped out for a few minutes.
Taylor was apologizing for the delay when he noticed the sticker.
“There’s a Neil sticker on this camera. Can you do that?”
A sarcastic reporter — me — replied, “It’s a free country.”
A sardonic reporter — Derrick DePledge of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser — remarked, “Just like you can be an independent blogger and give money to the Abercrombie campaign.”
(That’s you, Ian Lind of Kaaawa!)
But the ethical dilemma soon became apparent.
Taylor took a picture of the offending sticker. An office worker briefly placed a much larger “Duke Aiona for Governor” sign next to the camera. “Maybe someone stuck it on,” someone said.
Taylor said the lieutenant governor was worried about bias in the media. (Later that afternoon, Taylor tweeted his concern.)
The KHON2 crew soon returned to the Aiona HQ. Reporter Gina Mangieri quickly apologized and the sticker was removed.
The vignette was a glimpse into the serious, and sometime surreal, business of covering a governor campaign.
UPDATE 9/23/10 If you want to see how serious, or sensitive, it can be, consider this.
Within minutes of Taylor’s tweet about media bias, KHON reporter Justin Cruz tweeted back, “Come on Travis…you know that someone put that on our camera.” And then this: “And is that the thanks we get for being the ONLY station to show up at your press conference?”
Taylor then removed his tweet.
But we saved a copy.
On Friday at about 1 p.m., the station tweeted its explanation for how the sticker got on the camera.
“The sticker had been placed on a KHON2 camera by a candidate’s supporter at the campaign headquarters on primary election night,” the first tweet said.
A second tweet followed: “The camera had not been used since then, and the sticker was removed by a KHON2 staffer as soon as it was noticed.”
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