On Tuesday evening, Jan. 22, former Deputy U.S. Security Advisor Meghan O’Sullivan was scheduled to give a speech at Indiana University’s Memorial Union. She cancelled the lecture because of a stomach illness and after a reporter and editors of IU’s newspaper, the “Indiana Daily Student” (“IDS”), questioned the validity of O’Sullivan’s request of having a public speech at a public university be “off the record.” The situation was to become a public problem for the former advisor, Indiana University, the Student Alliance for National Security (SANS) and the “IDS.”
When the SANS, an Indiana University established organization, issued the press release for the former Bush national security advisor’s talk, the document said the speech would be “free and open to the public,” but the lecture would also “be off the record.”
An “IDS” reporter arrived at the event at the Indiana Memorial Union just a few minutes before the start of the lecture and made it known that they would not honor SANS’ and O’Sullivan’s “off the record” request and that the speech would be covered by the “IDS.” The newspaper believed that covering this story was consistent with their First Amendment rights, and that stripping them of these rights would legally be unfair and unjust. Nevertheless, SANS made it clear that they and O’Sullivan wanted the speech to be off the record with no exceptions.
The legality of the public speech was soon put into question. Shortly thereafter, the lecture was cancelled, a half hour after the speech was supposed to commence, with 70 audience members still in attendance.
O’Sullivan said she was feeling ill.
Five thousand dollars was reportedly lost on the event — $3,000 provided by the IU Student Association’s Assisted Inter-Organizational Development department (IUSA), and $2,000 provided by the SANS.
Since Jan. 22, the “IDS” has addressed the issue by publishing several stories on the event. The newspaper reported that “First Amendment experts and lawyers nationwide called O’Sullivan’s request questionable. But the event’s organizers said this was an issue of professionalism, not media rights.”
For more on this story, go to www.idsnews.com and type “Meghan O’Sullivan” into the search box.