The Detroit Free Press and its sister paper, the Lansing State Journal, have been denied credentials to cover Richard Spencer's speech today at Michigan State University.
The denial came after the Free Press — which plans to cover the protests related to the event, as well as the speech via livestream if possible — had originally been promised tickets to let a reporter and photographer inside the event.
The event takes place at 4:30 p.m. today. MSU has said it is simply renting space to the group and has no control over access. The event is closed to the public, although there are plans by several groups to protest.
The original promise for access came from Kyle Bristow, an attorney who had represented organizers in their lawsuit against MSU. Bristow resigned from the group after a Free Press profile of him was published last week.
However, before he resigned, he emailed media and told them they would have to apply for a credential through the National Policy Institute, which is holding the event. The Free Press did so and received a one-line denial.
The Lansing State Journal, also part of the USA Today Network with the Free Press, also applied for credentials through the National Policy Institute and was denied.
LSJ reporter RJ Wolcott received an explanation of how the decision was made.
"We are allowing some media in — it is important to have a journalistic presence — but far fewer than in Florida, which became a chaotic and unwieldy event from multiple perspectives," NPI spokesman Evan McLaren emailed. "We are not granting you or your outlet press credentials for this event.
"We are arranging one live feed and disallowing all other photography and recording. I have also been filtering media requests based on outlets' past coverage of Richard Spencer and NPI. If an outlet has misreported any of several easily verifiable facts — for example, whether Spencer spoke at the Unite the Right event in Charlottesville (he did not — no one was permitted to speak), whether he organized that event (he did not), or whether he sued Michigan State or the University of Florida (Cameron Padgett was the plaintiff, not Spencer or NPI) — then I elect not to grant them access."
The group was in metro Detroit for a rally this weekend. However two different venues cancelled their reservations because of safety concerns.
NPI was originally banned from MSU, but sued to be able to rent space. A court-ordered mediation produced an agreement that lets them on campus.
According to the terms of the agreement:
- Spencer will speak from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium in the Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education.
- Spencer will pay the university $1,650 for the rental.
- MSU will provide police and security for the event. Spencer's group won't pay anything toward it.
- Spencer's group will provide insurance for the event.
- Spencer's group will not hold any other gathering or event at MSU.