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Shame

The terrorist photographers press their cameras in people's faces and even try to take pictures up women's skirts - as they have done to the lovely Kate Middleton, girlfriend of England's Prince William.
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I love press photographers, who for many decades
brought alive scores of stories I wrote as a news
reporter, including hundreds of front-page pieces over
more than two decades at The Washington Times.

When Miss America 2003 Erika Harold had a dispute with
the Miss America pageant because they would not allow
her to continue her campaign as Miss Illinois to urge
our country's youth - particularly "young ladies," her
target group -- to abstain from drugs, sex, and
alcohol, it was photographer Michael Connor whose
marvelous images brought the story alive.

I broke the story when Miss Harold came to the
National Press Club in Washington, D.C. for her first
press conference in the nation's capital a month after
her September 2002 crowning as Miss America.

The headline written for the October 8, 2002
front-page story was a sizzler: "Miss America told to
zip it on chastity talk." The subhead: "Says
abstinence for teens frowned on as 'platform.'"

Michael Connor's front-page color photo showed a not
happy yet gorgeous Miss America, and his inside
black-and-white photo on the story jump-page was pure
genius, showing Erika Harold frowning, hands on hips,
after her Miss America Pageant handlers had
remonstrated her again on the walk from the J.W.
Marriott Hotel not to talk about abstinence.

Connor's picture was marvelous. He knew my story angle
beforehand and got a perfect shot of a petulant and
furious Erika Harold muzzled by beauty pageant
pointy-heads. Thanks to good sources who told me the
background, the muzzling was about to end and become a
national story.

Miss Harold opened up publicly about the muzzling in
response to questions, and was furious that a prior
trip to New York City, where she visited the
Anti-Defamation League, was being used by the ADL on
its Web site, in concert with Miss America Pageant
officials, to promote a gay-rights agenda, with her
picture aside a story about the ADL's
"anti-hate-speech" agenda in behalf of homosexuals.

Pageant officials tried to wave me off after the
National Press Club media event concluded and Miss
Harold asked me to show her the ADL Web site stuff,
but she rebuffed her handlers and, to their visible
dismay, continued a one-on-one interview where she
straightforwardly acknowledged being pressured and
muzzled on the abstinence issue.

The lid blew off after the publicity. Erika Harold
told me afterwards that she was liberated by the story
and pickup by other media, so throughout the rest of
her reign as Miss America she was able to talk
throughout the country in favor of teenage abstinence
from sex, drugs and alcohol, as she wanted.

Journalism is war. But the initial breaking story
would not have worked had it not been for Michael
Connor's wonderful photos.

Michael and professionals like him, with whom I was
privileged to work over many decades, are respectful
of their photo subjects, civil and mannerly in all
respects.

But out there on the press line, and in the
countryside throughout the world, are photographers
who are not respectful and civil, have no manners, and
bring shame to all professional media photographers.

Their objective is to get a picture of a big-name
person, or someone related in some way, to get smeared
on the front of a tabloid and receive big bucks. They
are called paparazzi.

These people have become photo terrorists who stake
out photo targets in public and private situations,
sneak around to photo people over walls and through
the windows of their houses, on beaches, and in any
situation where they can get titillating photos that
can be plasted across pages of tabloid newspapers.

They are low-class disrespectful, unmannerly, abusive
slobs who should be arrested for invasion of privacy
and assault.

This is competitive journalism at its worst, and is
destroying our people's history of respect for press
freedom, because these paparazzi photographers have no
respect for a person's privacy.

They have no manners or respect for other people and
their rights. They push themselves into any public or
private situation, making anyone famous for whatever
reason feel threatened and intimidated, frightening
their family members and children as they stake them
out and push themselves in any public or private
situation to get their selfish pictures.

The terrorist photographers, unlike the professionals
I've been privileged to work with at traditional
newspapers, press their cameras in people's faces as
they step in and out of their houses or in any
situation. They even try to take pictures up women's
skirts - as they have done to the lovely Kate
Middleton, girlfriend of England's 24-year-old Prince
William, son of Prince Charles, Duke of Windsor, heir
to the British throne, and the late lovely Lady Diana.

This is outrageous. Shame on these idiots, who destroy
public respect for all professionals in the media.
They must be stopped.

And if the media bosses of these photograph paparazzi
will not rein them in and set out some standards of
professional behavior and respect, then government
clamp-down will ensue and infringe on the press
freedom of all of us who are reporters, writers,
editors and photographers throughout the media.

According to the London Sunday Telegraph, Prince
William reported back January 8 for duty with his
regiment, the Blues and Royals of the Household
Cavalry, "a deeply troubled young man. Two separate,
yet strangely inter-linked, issues will be dominating
his thoughts. Kate Middleton, photographed last year,
is a paparazzi target in the style of Diana, Princess
of Wales.

"As 2nd Lieutenant Wales enters the regiment's
barracks near Windsor Castle, he will be aware that,
25 miles away, in central London an inquest into his
mother's death nearly 10 years ago is finally opening
at the Royal Courts of Justice. According to friends,
the Prince fleetingly considered going to the two-day
preliminary hearing in person but concluded it would
be 'inappropriate.' Instead, he and Prince Harry, have
asked Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, their private
secretary, to attend. Each evening the former SAS
officer will brief the two princes by phone on the
events of the day."

The story went on to report that Prince William was
otherwise "very angry, enormously frustrated" and
preoccupied over the ordeal of his girlfriend of three
years, Kate Middleton, who has been subjected to
"intensive, unceasing and unwelcome scrutiny from the
paparazzi. The parallels between the treatment of her
and of his mother are just too strong for the prince
to ignore."

The Telegraph story by reporter Andrew Alderson said
Miss Middleton steps out of the front door of her
London row-house each day "to be confronted by up to a
dozen telephoto lenses ... While some of the
photographers stand on the street, others are hidden
in blacked-out vans and still more are waiting on
motorbikes, the 'snapper' on the pillion.

"Last week," Alderson reported, "for the first time,
the bike riders had earpieces and were clearly
co-ordinating their pursuit of their quarry
military-style. As Miss Middleton goes to her blue VW
Golf, parked near her home in Chelsea, west London, to
make the seven-mile drive to work -- she is a buyer for
the High Street chain Jigsaw and works in Kew -- she is
followed by many of the paparazzi in the hope of
snatching an unusual shot of her. If they get lucky,
they could make up to £20,000 with a single image."

According to Matrix Syndication spokesman Trevor
Adams, Alderson reported that big picture agencies
that send their photographs to magazines and
newspapers around the world view Miss Middleton as
"the new Diana."

"We were with Lady Di every day at this stage until
the engagement was announced," Adams told the
Telegraph. "It will be the same for Kate, but we will
not hound her."

Alderson reported that last week the paparazzi had
some early-morning luck. "As Miss Middleton, who will
be 25 on Tuesday, emerged from her home on Wednesday,
a warden gave her a £100 parking ticket. She managed a
wry smile -- and within minutes, digital photographs of
the occasion were being dispatched around the world."

London's tabloids, capitalizing on the reaction of
Prince William and Miss Middleton to threats against
their privacy, reported that Miss Middleton was
receiving preferential treatment from the police,
including a 10-police guard "as engagement rumors
grow."

The Telegraph said the stories have infuriated Prince
William and all the royal family.

"The papers stated that, as Miss Middleton,
accompanied by Prince William, had left Boujis
nightclub in west London in the early hours of Friday,
she had a team of officers to protect her. Yet, as a
member of the public with no formal royal role, she
was not entitled to a police guard. A senior royal
aide said that any suggestion of special treatment for
Miss Middleton was ludicrous. 'Like any member of the
public, Kate Middleton is entitled to protection from
harassment and the increasingly aggressive behavior of
the paparazzi.'

"Another royal courtier said: 'Kate is a bright,
down-to-earth young woman but there is a limit to how
much more of this she can take. The situation is
becoming unbearable.'"

Prince William and Miss Middleton met and developed a
close relationship as students at St. Andrews
University in Scotland.

The Telegraph reported that Prince William and Michael
Middleton, Miss Middleton's multi-millionaire father,
are discussing ways to use a landmark 2004 court
ruling won by Princess Caroline of Monaco in
Strasbourg, which prevented the German press from
publishing photographs of her and her children. The
ruling stated that German courts had failed to prevent
implicit violation of her privacy if the images were
published.

The Telegraph reported that attorney Gerrard Tyrrell
of Harbottle & Lewis in London, Prince Charles' media
lawyer, who also is representing Miss Middleton, has
written letters to newspapers and magazines urging
restraint and reminding them that, if they use
paparazzi photographs, they must take responsibility
for the photographers' abusive and intrusive behavior
violating privacy.

So Prince William and the British royal family are
preparing to push back legally through the British
courts against the photographer paparazzi hordes.

"Sooner, rather than later, push will come to shove,"
the Telegraph reported, according to royal aides, and
the legal firm is preparing to lodge a formal
complaint of invasion of privacy -- "a clear-cut case
that they feel they cannot lose."

The result hopefully will throw a rocket into hearts
of lucrative supermarket tabloids in Britain and the
United States that tell lies about celebrities and
public people generally, write untrue stories, and
doctor them with paparazzi pictures blazed across
their front pages.

These tabloids and TV copy-cats bring shame to
legitimate journalism. A pox on them. And thanks to
Prince William, whose family is the richest in the
world, for taking on these scabs in defense of his
lovely girlfriend's privacy and their relationship.

There is one other point made by Lady Diana's favorite
priest in a message to yours truly regarding the
paparazzi and behavior of her sons, Princes William
and Harry: "I think also someone should remind the
princes of their confirmation vows. (They were
confirmed when at Eton.) They solemnly promised 'to
renounce the devil and all his works. The pomps and
vanity of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts
of the flesh.' Christians might not always live up to
that, of course, but they should at least be told
firmly that's what being a Christian entails."

The princes' mother was close to Father Frank Julian
Gelli, her parish priest near Kensington Palace in
London, right up to her unfortunate death in the Paris
car crash. He surely gave Lady Diana similar gentle
remonstration regarding her extra-marital relationship
with boyfriend Dodi Fayed, who died with her.

Father Frank said the Church of England authorities
should "gently remind" William and Harry that they are
Christian princes. "But what do I say?" he wrote. "The
C-of-E panjandrums? They are too sunk in apostasy and
corruption, alas."

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