Fort Bragg goes public with Palin signing

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

November 21, 2009 2:37:44 AM PST
A big media battle is over involving Sarah Palin's visit to Fort Bragg.Bragg officials say in hindsight, their plans to first prohibit, then restrict media coverage of Palin's visit to Fort Bragg were bad ideas.

That revelation came only after a barrage of media complaints and threats of constitution lawsuits.

"We realized this was going against the First Amendment and so yes the media generated a lot of interest in it," Fort Bragg Spokesman Tom McCollum said.

Bragg officials say Palin's visit seems to have generated more interest from the press than the public.

In book stores around Fort Bragg, sales of Palin's new book have been good, but not great.

"Sold about five already, so let's see this past week at my register I've personally sold maybe 10 to 15," said Craig Jackson with Books-A-Million.

"The book sales at the North Post Exchange they have reported that the book sales are weak," McCollum said.

So why were Fort Bragg officials trying and keep the press from covering her appearance?

Initially Fort Bragg officials banned any coverage on Palin's stop at the base Monday, fearing someone may say something bad about President Barack Obama.

"Our fear was that this would turn out to be a political platform, and us being a military installation we don't care who the politician is, we care who the elected official is," McCollum said.

Bragg officials later announced they would allow limited press coverage, but media lawyers said no deal.

"When you have a base opened up to the public at large and then say a subset of the public, the media, can't come on there, that's an unconstitutional restrictive," media attorney Amanda Martin said.

Late Friday evening Bragg officials waved a white flag.

"We have opened the media there is absolutely no restriction on anyone being interviewed, we have put out the word the soldiers, they can talk about the book talk about anything you want to," McCollum said.

Fort Bragg officials say Palin's publisher has put some restrictions on her appearance. They say Palin will only sign her book with just her name.

She won't stop to pose for photos, but a publishing company photographer will be talking candid shots.

Palin will be at the north post exchange Monday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. It is open to the public and the press.

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