State GOP silent on why it barred Globe reporter from public meeting

The state Republican Party declined to comment Friday on why it barred a Boston Globe reporter from attending a state committee meeting in Worcester that was open to other journalists and members of the public.

In an email, GOP spokesman Tim Buckley said he had nothing to add beyond what he wrote in a Twitter exchange with reporter Stephanie Ebbert that took place during Thursday night’s meeting. In the exchange, Buckley impugned Ebbert’s objectivity and said the Globe “already had 2 stories on topic. We just want everyone to get their ‘fair share.”’

At the meeting at the Beechwood Hotel in Worcester, committee members tabled a decision on whether to adopt the national Republican Party’s platform, which condemns gay marriage and abortion, including in instances of rape or incest. The state party has generally taken more liberal positions on social issues than the national party.

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Jennifer Peter, the Globe’s deputy managing editor in charge of local news, said the paper was committed to covering such policy debates.

“We strongly object to being excluded from any public meetings, particularly those where other media are welcome,” Peter said in a statement.

Buckley had told Ebbert last week that the meeting would be open to the public and the press. But on the day of the meeting, he sent her several text messages, including two that suggested she should save herself the trip.

When Ebbert arrived at the hotel, she was met by Buckley, who told her she would not be allowed entry. He would not answer whether other media were allowed in, but Ebbert later determined that they were.

After she was barred, Ebbert posted messages on Twitter: “MassGOP told me to come see the debate on the national platform. Until I actually showed up. Then they locked me out.”

In another post, she wrote: “Tim Buckley, GOP spokesman, moonlighting as bouncer. Locked me out of platform mtg.”

Buckley responded: “Warren hire new Comms director?”

It was an apparent reference to Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren and her communications staff.

Buckley did not elaborate on his bias claims. Ebbert was the first journalist in the state to write about the controversy over the state platform, which drew attention to a fissure within the party. She has also written stories that raised questions about GOP chairman Robert Maginn’s use of company’s resources to support party activities.

When journalists from other news organizations posted questions on Twitter asking why Ebbert was barred from the meeting, Buckley responded that the Globe had two previous stories on the subject. He also accused another reporter who posted messages supporting Ebbert’s right to access the meeting of allying with Democrats.

Ebbert waited outside the meeting, which lasted approximately two hours, and interviewed those in attendance as they walked out.