DC reporter: I was manhandled after trying to ask FCC officials questions

Nick Mcbride
May 20, 2017

"Hands off reporters!" National Press Club President Barbara Cochran said.

Federal Communications Commission officials said they apologized to a journalist today after the reporter accused FCC guards of "manhandling" him for trying to ask questions after a press conference ended.

"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".

"But it is completely unacceptable to physically restrain a reporter who has done nothing wrong or force him or her to leave a public building as if a crime had been committed".

"It may just be a case of a sort-of mall cop run amok, and I have no evidence that there's anything more than that", Donnelly described the incident. The FCC plans to take public comments for three months before issuing a final decision. "I positioned myself in a place where I could ask a question ... and if somebody in an official capacity in Washington doesn't want to answer a question from a reporter, all they do is smile and say, 'Have a nice day, ' and walk on".

The incident comes amid concerns about press freedom and access to Trump administration officials. "Officials who are fielding the questions don't have to answer", he said.

As the Federal Communications Commission considered changes to net neutrality rules created to preserve an open Internet, some people said the environment at the agency's public meeting this week was anything but open.

"Donnelly was doing his job and doing it with his characteristic civility", said National Press Club President Jeff Ballou.

On Wednesday, when Trump was presented with ceremonial sword at a U.S. Coast Guard commencement ceremony, Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly told him, "You can use that on the press".

Ironically, the incident came at a meeting where FCC Chairman Ajit Pai went out of his way to praise the FCC security guards-it is National Police Week. "I had my press pass displayed; I had a notebook; I was trying to ask a question".

An FCC spokesman told NPR journalist David Folkenflik that they had apologized to Donnelly and said the agency "was on heightened alert today based on several threats". SCHOO also reports that BUCHER was previously involved in alleged harassment of another reporter, BLOOMBERG NEWS' TODD SHIELDS, last JULY, taking SHIELDS' press badge while SHIELDS was interviewing a protestor, for which the FCC later apologized. "I was there, but I was not one of the reporters who asked a question at the press conference".

Donnelly, a well-known specialist in defense and military affairs, serves as president of the Military Reporters and Editors Association. Tom Udall and Maggie Hassan to the FCC about the incident with Donnelly.

Other reports by VgToday

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