Journalist 'Manhandled' by Trump Administration Guards While Asking Questions

Xavier Trudeau
Mai 20, 2017

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGOP senator: FCC must explain "manhandling" reporter Russian Federation probes in limbo after special prosecutor announcement Senate panel advances Trump's appeals court nominee MORE (R-Iowa) on Friday called for the Federal Communications Commission to explain why a reporter was "manhandled" by security guards at the agency's headquarters a day earlier.

Donnelly, who is the chair of the National Press Club's Press Freedom Team, said two security guards pinned him against the wall with their backs while FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly walked past.

"Hands off reporters!" National Press Club President Barbara Cochran said. Donnelly was trying to ask Pai and fellow Republican Commissioner Michael O'Rielly questions, according to a National Press Club statement. The letter asks that PAI include, at a minimum, a detailed description of the incident, an explanation of "any inappropriate physical contact, aggression, or threats" against DONNELLY, an explanation of any potential misconduct or wrongdoing by the security force, a description of FCC security policies for public events, including but not limited to speaking events featuring an FCC Commissioner; and assurance that such an incident won't happen again.

When contacted by Ars today, an FCC spokesperson said, "We apologized to Mr. Donnelly a few times and let him know that the FCC was on heightened alert today based on several threats". "There is no justification for using force in such a situation". This is at least the second time a reporter has been targeted by security for asking questions at a public meeting in a public building in the two weeks. The Washington Post adds it's "standard practice" to approach officials after a news conference. O'Rielly responded apologetically to tweets from Donnelly about the incident, saying he didn't recognize him in the hallway or see the guards touch him, and that he was "freezing and starving" at the time and was happy to answer Donnelly's questions. They even waited for him outside the men's room at one point.

One of the guards asked Donnelly why he had not posed his question during the press conference.

"Donnelly was doing his job and doing it with his characteristic civility, " Ballou said in a statement. The First Amendment is not limited to official press conferences, and public officials may not use law enforcement to shield themselves from tough questions in public places. A Bloomberg News reporter told Donnelly on Thursday that he had his press pass stripped after interviewing a protester outside the FCC. A reporter was arrested in West Virginia last week after attempting to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price about an Obamacare replacement bill, an arrest strongly condemned by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union.

Carl Hulse tweeted: Outrageous and offensive. This and WV arrest are ominous.

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