Ken Ward Jr., the chair of the Society of Environmental Journalists’ Freedom of Information Task Force, called Salazar’s assertion that public-policy questions should be off limits at a campaign event “absurd” in a string of tweets about the incident. “But the real problem is Salazar’s behavior is indicative of [the] Obama administration’s general views on answering questions from the press,” he added.

Indeed, reporters have widely criticized the White House for failing to live up to promises to improve government openness and transparency, but Salazar’s threat of physical violence is a new low. His cowboy hat notwithstanding, Colorado is no longer the Wild West.


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Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.