Fort Bragg puts limits on Palin's book tour visit

The (Raleigh) News & ObserverNovember 20, 2009 

Sarah Palin kicked off her book tour in Michigan this week, and thousands gathered outside a Barnes & Noble chanting her name, giving the event the feel of a political pep rally. The Army wants Palin's appearance at Fort Bragg on Monday to be much quieter.

The base has asked Palin not to make a speech at a public book-signing at the base exchange; she also will not write personal notes, pose for photographs or sign anything besides her new memoir, "Going Rogue: An American Life."

Fort Bragg also wanted to bar reporters from the event. Garrison Commander Col. Stephen J. Sicinski determined that by keeping out the media, the base would prevent Palin, a Republican and possible candidate in 2012, from having a platform from which to attack President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

"Fort Bragg, nor any other Army installation, cannot be used or appear to be used as endorsing criticism of the commander in chief," said base spokesman Thomas D. McCollum. "Because this book signing is turning into a political platform with the addition of media coverage, we are restricting the media coverage."

But late Thursday, after news outlets complained to the Pentagon, the base changed course, saying a limited number of reporters could cover the event if they shared their material with those kept out.

No limit was set on the number of people from the public who could attend the two-hour session at the base exchange. Lines are expected to be long.

Media lawyer Hugh Stevens, who has represented The News & Observer, said it will be a political event whether the media are there or not, and he questioned the wisdom of allowing it to happen on a military base when there are bookstores and other venues in nearby Fayetteville that would be more appropriate settings.

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