What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been (Or: How I Found a Home at Heartland)

While I’m blogging from inside the Heartland Institute’s global warming denier conference today, I spent the first two hours of the event on the outside looking in.

When I went to register on Friday, the event’s website said that the conference was full and registration was closed. I emailed the Heartland Institute’s events manager asking, “Is there any way to participate in the event or am I out of luck?” Her response:

I am so sorry but we are sold out, I have no extra space, in fact I am over my limit hoping some people will cancel. The entire conference will be on our website about two weeks after the event.


Security_2I thought I’d stop by the conference anyway in case there were opportunities to participate without being registered. But security agents (on the left in the photo) were posted at each main conference entrance checking badges.

I set up my laptop in the lobby by an elevator and started writing my first blog post of the day. Eventually, a couple of reporters noticed me and wanted to interview me about not being allowed inside.

As a crew from the BBC was talking to me, the Heartland Institute’s events manager approached us with a security agent by her side. I asked the events manager if there was a problem. The crew continued to film as she told us that due to increased security with the president of the Czech Republic in attendance, only registered participants were allowed on the conference floors.

I thought it was pretty extreme that they were about to have security escort me out. “I don’t want to cause any trouble. If you want me to leave, that’s fine, I’ll go” I said. “But am I really a security risk?”

The events manager turned to the camera and put her hand up. “Stop filming!” she said.

The BBC cameraman was taken aback, but since the Marriott is private property, he had to do as asked.

The events manager turned back to me and said, “I never said you couldn’t register. I said you could register as media.”

I told her that sounded great and picked up a press credential. I’ve been inside the conference ever since.

Later, I bumped into the BBC crew and we all shared a laugh. It’s amazing what can happen when the cameras are rolling. Press credentials appear out of thin air!

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Published: March 4, 2008