Free Copies Yanked Away p. 17

By: M.L. STEIN SOME 300 SPECTATORS given free copies of the Deseret News to pass the time while waiting for a speech by Barbara Bush hardly got past the front page before they were yanked away, reportedly as a Secret Service security precaution.
But was it? The Salt Lake City-based News, a major sponsor of the event at Utah Valley State College, Orem, is puzzled by the episode, particularly since attendees were not searched or subjected to metal detectors when they entered the auditorium.
The paper isn't the only puzzled party. A Secret Service official said he, too, doesn't know why it happened.
Mrs. Bush, wife of former president George Bush, was the keynote speaker at the recent "In Honor of Women" conference at the college.
Genelle Pugmire, a News editorial assistant, passed out about two dozen copies of the paper to early arrivals after asking event officials for permission.
But when time dragged on with no sign of Mrs. Bush [her speech began two hours late], Pugmire, again with permission, handed out 300 more papers to the waiting audience.
"Women came out and helped me carry the papers to the center," she recalled.
Thirty minutes before Bush's appearance, the newspaper reading was abruptly ended. Conference director Margie Green announced over the public address system that all newspapers had to be passed down the aisles where they were collected and dumped into trash bins.
Brent Roberts, director of the David D. McKay Special Events Center, the conference site, told the News it was standard practice for Secret Service agents to prohibit newspapers in the audience when a presidential dignitary was making an address.
"They could be used to disguise faces or weapons," he said.
The ban also applied to copies of Church News, a weekly publication, inserted into the News, which is published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The News reported that many women stashed the Church News section into their purses when the order came.
In a second-day story of the incident, the News quoted the Secret Service agent in charge of security for the former first lady's visit as saying he knew of no policy barring newspapers from the audience at speeches of dignitaries it is assigned to protect.
Agent Glen Passey, who did not attend the conference himself, said: "I don't know of any of our people who directed that to happen at all." He added, however, it was possible that the agent in charge at the college perceived a security risk.
"Normally, that wouldn't be a problem unless he saw something he thought would have been a particular problem," Passey said. "Normally, we're not fanatical about this type of thing. Each situation is different. We try to be as cooperative with the host people as we can."
Deseret News managing editor Don Woodward commented to E&P: "It looks as if someone connected to the conference got a little overzealous."
Steve Handy, the News' promotion director, said the paper was pleased to be a sponsor and partner of the conference, but termed the papers distributed there, "harmless."
"Someone made a silly snap judgment the day of the event," he surmised. n
?(Barbara Bush) [Photo]


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