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Off the record? That's just silly.

By Scott Tibbs, January 24, 2008

I was planning on attending the speech on Tuesday night by Meghan O'Sullivan, former national security advisor to President Bush. I wound up not going, and when I picked up the Indiana Daily Student the next day I was glad I stayed home. The speech was cancelled after the IDS did not agree with O'Sullivan's demand that she not be quoted. Keep in mind that this speech on the campus of a public university was free and open to the public.

First, the idea that coverage of the speech could be muffled is just silly. In the age of instant communication through the Internet, someone in the audience could have easily taken notes and then covered the speech on a blog. That is what I probably would have done if I had attended the speech. How exactly is O'Sullivan going to know whether I or anyone else would report on the speech online?

Second, anything in O'Sullivan's speech that is not appropriate for publication in a newspaper should not be said in a speech on the campus of a public university that is free and open to the public. Public figures should expect that anything and everything they say in such a speech could be broadcast nationwide. The Bush administration has been criticized often over the last seven years about secrecy, and needless controversies like this one give fuel to that criticism. This takes it to a new level of silliness.

I applaud the IDS for taking a stand founded on integrity. One of the primary responsibilities of a campus newspaper is to report on events such as this, and an article on this speech could have been very informative to thousands of people who did not attend the speech. It is unfortunate that O'Sullivan decided to "take her ball and go home" when she did not get her way. I hope the money spent to bring her here will be refunded in full.

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