Secret Service agents, school officials veto students’ coverage of first family

President Bush has only been in office for a few months, but student journalistsat two universities have already encountered problems stemming from theircoverage of the first family.

In February, three Secret Service agents detained and questioned GlennGiven, managing editor of the Stony Brook Press, a satirical campusnewspaper at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, about a columnhe wrote in which he asked God to “smite” President Bush.

According to Given, the agents said they feared the article might beinterpreted by some as a divine call to harm the president. A faculty memberwho became concerned after reading the column called the Secret Service.

But Given said his column was an attempt to express his frustrationwith the president and was not intended to be taken literally.

“The intent of the editorial was absurdist satire,” Given said. “Thispaper has a really strong history of being satirical … and I wanted tokeep with that tradition. But in no way did we actually want someone togo and kill the president.”

According to federal law, it is illegal to “knowingly and willfully”threaten the president.

A spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service Field Office in Melville, N.Y.,refused to comment on the incident.

According to the Yale Daily News, the dean of student affairsat Yale University ordered student editors of Rumpus, a campus humormagazine, to remove a story about first daughter Barbara Bush from themagazine’s Web site. The story, entitled “O Daughter, Where Art Thou,”detailed the Secret Service’s problems keeping track of Bush, a freshmanat the university.

Neither Jared LeBoff, editor of Rumpus, nor Nathaniel Pincus-Roth,author of the story, would comment on the situation. LeBoff did tell theNews that the request to remove the story from the publication’sWeb site was reasonable.

“I don’t think the response by Yale was inappropriate,” he said.

Rumpus’ Web site said the April issue was unavailable.

Betty Trachtenberg, the dean who spoke to the students, called the story”the most irresponsible kind of press that could possibly happen.”