Poor Drew Griffin learned this lesson the hard way. After a report about the Transport Security Administration last year and the ridiculousness of their Terrorist Watch List, he discovered that he himself had been put on the list.
Of course he's been assured that it was just an oopsie:
TSA spokesman Chris White said earlier this week that any connection between Griffin's reporting and his name being added to the no-fly list "is absolutely fabricated."
Oh, so that's all right, then.
If it isn't a coincidence - and the only explanation would be there's another 'Drew Griffin' somewhere in the United States who is some kind of potential terrorist - then the message to journalists couldn't be clearer: don't mess with us or put us in a bad light, or we will make your life a lot less pleasant. It's the 'stick' as opposed to the 'carrot' of lovely free stuff, junkets and preferential treatment for those reporters who do what is required of them without asking too many pesky questions or, you know, trying to report the truth about things so often.
Even if it is a total coincidence, Griffin's appearance on the list shows that it's largely pointless as a tool to weed out terrorists who may be boarding flights, due to the fact that lots of different people may, unfortunately, share the same name.
I wonder if this kind of nonsense happens to British journalists, particularly those who fly to the US? Anyone who has, like me, had the misfortune (or downright criminal tendencies) to have ever - ever - been arrested for an offence of 'moral turpitude' now has to apply to the US Embassy (for a conveniently expensive £100 fee) for a waiver every time we travel to the US. Could it be made equally as uncomfortable for other journalists who aren't quite on-message? Or is the deterrent effect of the Griffin case enough to set the alarm bells ringing?