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FCC security guards manhandle reporter, eject him from meeting for asking questions

CQ Roll Call, owned by the Economist Group, publishes a variety of news products focused on policy and politics in Washington. It s known for researched, unbiased reporting. Donnelly, a well-known specialist in defense and military affairs, serves as president of the Military Reporters and Editors Association. He has previously headed the National Press Club s Board of Governors and served on the Standing Committee of Correspondents for the U.S. Congress. Thursday s meeting involved a discussion of a range of proposed FCC rules, including a proposal to roll back net neutrality regulations[7] adopted during the Obama administration. Several pro-net neutrality groups demonstrated[8] outside the FCC s headquarters in the morning.

An FCC spokesman told The Washington Post in an email: We apologized to Mr. Donnelly more than once and let him know that the FCC was on heightened alert today based on several threats. The incident comes at a time of growing and undisguised hostility toward the press in the upper ranks of government. Since taking office, President Trump has called news organizations the enemy of the people[9], and Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist, has described the media as the opposition party[10]. 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[11].

Just last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price defended the arrest of a reporter[12] who tried to question him about the Republican health care bill in a hallway at the West Virginia state capitol. The reporter, Dan Heyman of Public News Service, was jailed on a charge of willful disruption of state government processes. Price said police did what they felt was appropriate.

. @FCC[13] guards manhandled me, forced me out of building when I tried to ask @AjitPaiFCC[14] & @mikeofcc[15] questions. https://t.co/qQHQ4O82lc[16] 1

John M. Donnelly (@johnmdonnelly) May 18, 2017[17]

Donnelly said he noticed at Thursday s FCC meeting that security guards were following him around the building as if he were a security threat, even though he was wearing his press badge and carrying a notebook and recorder. At one point, he said, guards waited for him outside the restroom.

I thought they were just doing it to prevent anyone from getting too close to the commissioners, which I would understand as a security measure, Donnelly told Mic. But then it became apparent that they were singling me out as if I were someone who was some sort of trouble. The National Press Club s statement identified the guard who ejected Donnelly as Frederick Bucher, head of the FCC s security operations center[18]. According to the National Press Club, Bucher took a press badge from Bloomberg reporter Todd Shields last year after Shields spoke with a protester at an FCC meeting.

FCC security takes visitor pass from Bloomberg reporter Todd Shields for speaking to a protestor at meeting. pic.twitter.com/KzRwGIkIf7[19]

Jim Puzzanghera (@JimPuzzanghera) July 14, 2016[20]

Jeff Ballou, the National Press Club s president, condemned the guards actions on Thursday.

Donnelly was doing his job and doing it with his characteristic civility, Ballou said in a statement. Reporters can ask questions in any area of a public building that is not marked off as restricted to them. Officials who are fielding the questions don t have to answer. 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.

Others came to Donnelly s defense as well:

Outrageous and offensive. John is an accomplished veteran reporter and knows how to do his job in DC. This and WV arrest are ominous. https://t.co/DWrT8YADh0[21]

carl hulse (@hillhulse) May 18, 2017[22]

it’s outrageous that a total professional like @johnmdonnelly should be removed under “implied threat of force” for trying to ask a question https://t.co/MytfUNUovh[23][24]

geof koss (@geofkoss) May 19, 2017[25]

Would also like to add @johnmdonnelly is one of the NICEST, most respectful people you’ll ever meet in the press corps or otherwise. https://t.co/6eCgnkfh4q[26][27]

Oriana Pawlyk (@Oriana0214) May 19, 2017[28]

I worked with @johnmdonnelly at CQ when I covered the @FCC for them. This is disturbing news about how a professional reporter was treated. https://t.co/Xg5BB65Vfb[29][30][31]

Alisha Green (@alisha_writes) May 19, 2017[32]

Paul Farhi contributed to this report.

More from Morning Mix

Twice Robert Mueller threatened to resign from the FBI. Twice he decided not to.[33]

Jimmy Fallon says people have a right to be mad at his friendly hair-tousling of Trump[34]

I think we re in impeachment territory, says David Gergen, former aide to Nixon and Clinton[35]

References

  1. ^ National Press Club (www.press.org)
  2. ^ tweet (twitter.com)
  3. ^ @mikeofcc (twitter.com)
  4. ^ @FCC (twitter.com)
  5. ^ @AjitPaiFCC (twitter.com)
  6. ^ May 18, 2017 (twitter.com)
  7. ^ roll back net neutrality regulations (www.washingtonpost.com)
  8. ^ demonstrated (thinkprogress.org)
  9. ^ enemy of the people (www.washingtonpost.com)
  10. ^ the opposition party (www.washingtonpost.com)
  11. ^ You can use that on the press (www.washingtonpost.com)
  12. ^ defended the arrest of a reporter (www.washingtonpost.com)
  13. ^ @FCC (twitter.com)
  14. ^ @AjitPaiFCC (twitter.com)
  15. ^ @mikeofcc (twitter.com)
  16. ^ https://t.co/qQHQ4O82lc (t.co)
  17. ^ May 18, 2017 (twitter.com)
  18. ^ head of the FCC s security operations center (transition.fcc.gov)
  19. ^ pic.twitter.com/KzRwGIkIf7 (t.co)
  20. ^ July 14, 2016 (twitter.com)
  21. ^ https://t.co/DWrT8YADh0 (t.co)
  22. ^ May 18, 2017 (twitter.com)
  23. ^ @johnmdonnelly (twitter.com)
  24. ^ https://t.co/MytfUNUovh (t.co)
  25. ^ May 19, 2017 (twitter.com)
  26. ^ @johnmdonnelly (twitter.com)
  27. ^ https://t.co/6eCgnkfh4q (t.co)
  28. ^ May 19, 2017 (twitter.com)
  29. ^ @johnmdonnelly (twitter.com)
  30. ^ @FCC (twitter.com)
  31. ^ https://t.co/Xg5BB65Vfb (t.co)
  32. ^ May 19, 2017 (twitter.com)
  33. ^ Twice Robert Mueller threatened to resign from the FBI. Twice he decided not to. (www.washingtonpost.com)
  34. ^ Jimmy Fallon says people have a right to be mad at his friendly hair-tousling of Trump (www.washingtonpost.com)
  35. ^ I think we re in impeachment territory, says David Gergen, former aide to Nixon and Clinton (www.washingtonpost.com)

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