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Arpaio 'Meet the Press' interview to air on Taylor Mall

November 27, 2009

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication will air an hour-long reporters’ panel interview with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Nov. 30 live on a large video screen outside the building and on the Internet to accommodate heavy public interest in the event.

The “Meet the Press” event, featuring three Cronkite journalism professors questioning Arpaio on his controversial record on First Amendment and public records issues, will be held in the school’s First Amendment Forum.

The school had planned to open the event, which starts at 7 p.m. Monday, to the general public, but Phoenix police told school officials earlier this week that they are projecting a crowd of 800, including demonstrators for and against the sheriff, ASU students, faculty and staff, and other members of the community.

Police pointed to a Facebook site protesting Arpaio that shows 396 people confirming their attendance and another 441 “maybes.”

Because of the intense interest and because the fire code capacity of the First Amendment Forum is 210, access to the event will be limited to ASU students, faculty and staff.

“We had hoped to fit everyone into the First Amendment Forum, but with these new projections obviously we cannot do that safely,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “The live airing on Taylor Mall and the live stream on the Internet will enable everyone to see in real time this important interview of a political figure who is powerful, popular and highly controversial.”

Callahan said while most First Amendment Forum events are free and open to the public, some are limited to ASU students, faculty and staff, including the school’s popular “Wednesday Night at the Movies” series featuring journalism-themed movies and broadcasts of major events such as the Super Bowl.

“At the end of the day, while we try to accommodate all members of the public for all of our events, our priority must be and will always be our students,” Callahan said. “But we believe the interview with Sheriff Arpaio is so important that we have taken the unusual steps of presenting it live outside on a video screen for anyone to see in addition to streaming it on the Internet.”

The video screen will be set up on Taylor Mall, the area adjacent to the Cronkite School and University Center between Central Avenue and First Street.

The live Internet feed will be available at:

The interviewers are three Cronkite professors and veteran journalists: Steve Elliott, digital news director of Cronkite News Service and former Associated Press Phoenix bureau chief; Sue Green, broadcast news director of Cronkite News Service and former managing editor of ABC15; and Rick Rodriguez, the school’s Carnegie Professor of Journalism and former executive editor of the Sacramento Bee

“This is a unique opportunity for our students to watch three great journalists explore critical free press issues with a political figure who easily wins re-election but whose policies have created divisiveness within the community and whose interactions with the news media are controversial,” Callahan said. “Shining a light on powerful political figures and controversial policies is what watchdog journalism is all about. Our 'Meet the Press' event with Sheriff Arpaio is a classic example of that.”