Journalist Says FCC Security 'Manhandled' Him After Asking Questions

Jay Anderson
May 20, 2017

A veteran Washington reporter says he was manhandled by security guards from the Federal Communications Commission, then forced out of the agency's headquarters as he tried to ask a commissioner questions at a public meeting on Thursday.

CQ Roll Call senior defense reporter John Donnelly said he was confronted by security guards who weren't in uniform when he tried to ask commissioners questions away from the podium at a press conference, according to the National Press Club.

Bucher then followed him and used an "implied threat of force" to force him to leave the building, Donnelly said.

Donnelly said in the statement that he "could not have been less threatening or more polite".

"There is no justification for using force in such a situation", the CQ Roll Call reporter added. "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 FCC today voted in favor of a proposal to reverse the classification of ISPs as common carriers and eliminate or replace the current net neutrality rules. 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.

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

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"It's very troubling", said Tristani, a Democrat who served as a commissioner from 1997 to 2001 and is a special policy adviser to the Pasadena-based National Hispanic Media Coalition.

Journalists impeded from their appointed rounds of asking questions of public officials is a sore point with journalists, particularly given the President's attitude toward journalists and the recent arrest of a West Virginia reporter for asking questions of an Administration official.

Pitching questions to public officials in public areas after a press conference is standard practice for reporters who cover government.

The FCC has not yet issued a public statement on the incident, and gave identical responses to multiple media outlets. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Tom Udall of New Mexico. "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".

Donnelly said Bucher asked why he didn't wait to ask his questions at a news conference after the meeting.

The FCC also apologized to Bloomberg News reporter Todd Shields last July when Bucher took the reporter's press badge while he was talking to a protestor, according to the National Press Club report. "This and WV arrest are ominous", Hulse Tweeted.

Other reports by BadHub

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