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posted by martyb on Saturday May 20 2017, @07:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the shouting-questions-in-a-crowded-hallway dept.

John M. Donnelly, a senior writer at CQ Roll Call, said he was trying to talk with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly one-on-one after a news conference when two plainclothes guards pinned him against a wall with the backs of their bodies.

Washington Post

“Not only did they get in between me and O’Rielly but they put their shoulders together and simultaneously backed me up into the wall and pinned me to the wall for about 10 seconds just as I started to say, “Commissioner O’Rielly, I have a question,” Donnelly said Friday.

Donnelly said he was stopped long enough to allow O’Rielly to walk away.

Los Angeles Times

Donnelly, who also happens to be chair of the National Press Club Press Freedom team, said he was then forced out of the building after being asked why he had not posed his question during the news conference.

O'Rielly apologized to Donnelly on Twitter, saying he didn't recognize Donnelly in the hallway. "I saw security put themselves between you, me and my staff. I didn't see anyone put a hand on you. I'm sorry this occurred."

Politico

According to the publication for which the reporter works (archived copy),

Senators, including Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, are warning the Federal Communications Commission about its treatment of reporters after a CQ Roll Call reporter was manhandled Thursday.

“The Federal Communications Commission needs to take a hard look at why this happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. As The Washington Post pointed out, it’s standard operating procedure for reporters to ask questions of public officials after meetings and news conferences,” the Iowa Republican said. “It happens all day, every day. There’s no good reason to put hands on a reporter who’s doing his or her job.”

Additional coverage:

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Arik on Saturday May 20 2017, @08:20PM (5 children)

    by Arik (4543) on Saturday May 20 2017, @08:20PM (#512701) Journal
    Yes, it sounds like they were 'polite but firm' that this person they didn't recognize was not going to just walk up to their charge and interrupt his journey. And "why didn't he ask his question during the conference" actually seems like a pertinent question here. If I just gave a press conference and answered their questions and then one of them tried to accost me on the way out to ask another question I might very well feel reasonable in brushing right on past and ignoring them. Should have asked it during the conference, now you'll have to email.

    From TFA: "There’s no good reason to put hands on a reporter who’s doing his or her job.”

    Alright but is that actually what happened? Did they lay hands on him or simply give him the polite but firm cold shoulder for a critical couple of seconds thereby allowing their charge to get on with his day? Not the same thing at all.

    --
    If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by AthanasiusKircher on Saturday May 20 2017, @10:11PM (4 children)

    by AthanasiusKircher (5291) on Saturday May 20 2017, @10:11PM (#512751) Journal

    Sure, a story like this can easily become a "he said, she said" kind of thing where nobody really knows what happened. Except several people likely know what happened -- at least the reporter, two security guards, and O'Rielly. Given that this happened immediately after a press conference in a public place, it's likely there were other witnesses too.

    it sounds like they were 'polite but firm' that this person they didn't recognize was not going to just walk up to their charge and interrupt his journey.

    If they actually pushed him into a wall and held him there (even briefly), as he claims, that's a little more than "polite but firm."

    If I just gave a press conference and answered their questions and then one of them tried to accost me on the way out to ask another question I might very well feel reasonable in brushing right on past and ignoring them. Should have asked it during the conference, now you'll have to email.

    In normal (non-Trump) times, it's pretty common for reporters to approach a speaker and ask questions within a public space. It's absolutely the right of the speaker to "brush past" if they want. It's less typical for plainclothes "goons" to step out and push someone up against a wall, unless they're doing something aggressive or which makes them look like a credible threat.

    is that actually what happened? Did they lay hands on him or simply give him the polite but firm cold shoulder for a critical couple of seconds thereby allowing their charge to get on with his day? Not the same thing at all.

    I agree. It's "not the same thing at all."

    Here are several reasons why I think your interpretation is less likely in this instance:

    (1) O'Rielly actually apologized directly. The FCC has said on the record that they "apologized repeatedly." If this were just a minor misunderstanding, they'd likely emphasize that instead. The strength of the apologies seem to mean they know something inappropriate likely happened.
    (2) This isn't just a single reporter tweeting about what (supposedly) happened to him. The story was part of a National Press Club press release [press.org]. That signals to me that either they greatly respect this reporter and trust that he wouldn't exaggerate something like this and/or there were other witnesses that noticed something odd happening.
    (3) The Ars Technica piece has this to say about what happened AFTER the incident:

    “One of the guards, Frederick Bucher, asked Donnelly why he had not posed his question during the press conference,” the National Press Club wrote. “Then Bucher proceeded to force Donnelly to leave the building entirely under implied threat of force.”

    Donnelly also alleged that the security guards shadowed him as if he were a security threat and waited for him outside the bathroom, “even though he continuously displayed his congressional press pass and held a tape recorder and notepad.”

    This doesn't sound like "Oops -- sorry we had to push you out of the way to ensure our guy could get past" kind of behavior. This sounds more like "YOU WILL RESPECT MA' AUTHORITAY!" kind of behavior.

    • (Score: 1) by tftp on Sunday May 21 2017, @02:55AM (2 children)

      by tftp (806) on Sunday May 21 2017, @02:55AM (#512845) Homepage

      (1) O'Rielly actually apologized directly. The FCC has said on the record that they "apologized repeatedly." If this were just a minor misunderstanding, they'd likely emphasize that instead. The strength of the apologies seem to mean they know something inappropriate likely happened.

      This is exactly why so many people recommend to never apologize for anything. If you do, it will be seen as admission of guilt.

      • (Score: 2) by AthanasiusKircher on Sunday May 21 2017, @05:04AM

        by AthanasiusKircher (5291) on Sunday May 21 2017, @05:04AM (#512889) Journal

        It's not the mere fact of an apology -- it's the emphasis. If there's a misunderstanding, and you want to "save face" publicly and emphasize no wrongdoing, you might apologize AND explain the misunderstanding. Here, instead you have mutiple FCC officials emphasizing apologies, including the commissioner himself, and no attempt to "save face" other than some muttering about vague "threats" that could have caused security to be a little anxious or something. (There are always vague "threats" to blame stuff like this on.)

      • (Score: 2) by dry on Sunday May 21 2017, @05:16AM

        by dry (223) on Sunday May 21 2017, @05:16AM (#512891) Journal

        What if you are guilty? We all fuck up once in a while.

    • (Score: 2) by Arik on Sunday May 21 2017, @03:56AM

      by Arik (4543) on Sunday May 21 2017, @03:56AM (#512870) Journal
      "If they actually pushed him into a wall and held him there (even briefly), as he claims, that's a little more than "polite but firm.""

      To quote the article: "two plainclothes guards pinned him against a wall with the backs of their bodies."

      That being his interpretation. If we assume he's a little prickly, as I'd expect someone of his station to be, that sounds pretty consistent with my read. Two big guys with their shoulders together accidentally-on-purpose crowding him off to a wall when he really wanted to jump center stage and accost their charge.

      It's consistent with either interpretation though, I'll grant.

      "(1) O'Rielly actually apologized directly. The FCC has said on the record that they "apologized repeatedly." If this were just a minor misunderstanding, they'd likely emphasize that instead. The strength of the apologies seem to mean they know something inappropriate likely happened."

      I really don't think it's proper to frame an early apology as an admission of guilt. It's perfectly possible they weren't/aren't 100% sure what actually happened aside from this guy got his feelings hurt, so they say sorry.

      And 3 is your best point, if it proves out to be true it certainly changes things.

      --
      If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?