Opinion

University responds to criticism of Free Beacon suspension: Hey, rules are rules

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Washington Free Beacon,Hillary Clinton,Arkansas,Becket Adams

The University of Arkansas responded Friday to criticism of its recent decision to ban a news organization from examining the university's archived information on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“There is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation regarding a claim that The Washington Free Beacon was 'banned' from Special Collections,” the universality said in a statement on its site. “The issue is that this media outlet failed to comply with standard library policies followed across the nation. If The Washington Free Beacon can agree to follow the library's rules, the same rules practiced by all other patrons, then we will reinstate its research privileges.

“This isn’t an issue about withholding information, the bottom line is they failed to obtain permission to publish copyrighted material. Further, this is not the first time we’ve asked The Free Beacon to follow our procedure. They were notified in February following a similar lack of policy compliance. We’ve never denied a permission to publish for a patron,” the statement added.

In a notice delivered on June 17, University of Arkansas Libraries dean Carolyn Henderson Allen pledged that the suspension would be lifted if the news organization agreed to scrub published material from its website.

The Free Beacon disputes this claim.

"Your staff provided the recordings to the Free Beacon without any condition, apprised the Free Beacon of no 'policies' limiting their dissemination, and required no agreement to be signed prior to receiving them," the group's lawyer said in a statement.

The Free Beacon said it would not comply with requests to scrub published materials from its website.

“There’s nothing unique about this requirement. The library does not ban patrons from researching. In fact, this is the first and only time an agency has not followed the policy, resulting in a temporary suspension of privileges,” the university’s Friday statement continued.

“We duplicated and provided the materials to the Free Beacon in the first place, expecting compliance with our policies for publishing. We will reinstate that organization’s privileges to access Special Collections pending confirmation that the organization will follow the rules similar to all other patrons.

“A suspension is temporary. We emphasize that the University of Arkansas treats all researchers equally and encourages members of the media and general public to access records in Special Collections. Providing access to the records is why the university has the collection in the first place.”

The Free Beacon published a story this month that revealed the unflattering details of Hillary Clinton's 1975 defense of a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl.

The story was based entirely on information gathered from the University of Arkansas' Roy Reed Collection.

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