Officials charged CNN political analyst April Ryan’s bodyguard with assault after he allegedly physically removed a local journalist from an event that featured Ryan.

Ryan has not spoken about the incident. She has become one of the loudest voices to bash President Donald Trump over his words against the media. She has also contributed to the hyperbole that Trump’s administration presents a danger to the free press.

New Brunswick Today editor Charlie Kratovil accused Joel Morris of “violently” removing him from the event on August 3 at The Heldrich Hotel. From (emphasis mine):

A criminal complaint dated August 19 charges 30-year-old Joel Morris of Country Club Hills, Illinois, with harassment, assault and theft. It alleges Morris took Kratovil’s arm and shoved it behind his back, injuring his forearm and shoulder. The harassment and theft charges stem from Morris taking the camera, according to the complaint.

Kratovil said a public relations firm had alerted him to Ryan’s appearance and invited him to attend the NJ Parent Summit. He said he received permission and arrived at the hotel, checked in and recorded other speakers for two hours without issue.

But shortly before Ryan took the stage, a man began to question his camera and his presence, he said.

In video of the incident, Ryan appears before the crowd and soon stops speaking. She pauses as a man comes up to the podium and then moves to the camera.

“What I will say, when I speak, I don’t have news covering my speeches,” Ryan tells the crowd.

“Don’t touch my camera,” Kratovil is heard saying. “Don’t you dare, put that down, sir. That’s my camera.”

The footage spins as the camera moves, sometimes going dark, at others catching glimpses of a lobby and the bodyguard.

“At that point, I had no choice” but to leave the room, Kratovil told NJ Advance Media in a phone call. “That camera is worth more than my car. I was able to retrieve it but was not able to avoid being attacked by this guy.”

Kratovil posted videos of the incident:

Ryan said she doesn’t “have news covering my speeches.” Kratovil stated that “other local reporters remained, and many people in the audience had taken out their phones to take photos or videos.”

The Heldrich Hotel’s general manager Lloyd Van Horn said the hotel has cooperated with the police. Kratovil expressed disgust over Ryan’s silence.

“Her silence is deafening at this point,” he said. “It’s been two weeks. Anybody who’s a journalist should be condemning this.”

Kratovil hopes the criminal charges against her bodyguard will force her to say something.

The Society of Professional Journalists said:

As a first principle, it is never under any circumstances permissible for a person aggrieved at being photographed or videotaped to lay hands on the journalist, or attempt to take away the journalist’s equipment. This is a bright-line rule from which all journalists benefit, and which must be observed and enforced rigorously. Even in the event of a trespass (and Kratovil, a registered guest, was not a trespasser), the only proper recourse is to notify law enforcement, not resort to “self-help.”

Moreover, “ground rules” about the use of recording equipment at events to which members of the public are invited should be clearly spelled out, in advance, to all attendees. To the extent that recording is to be restricted, such restrictions should be uniformly enforced — or unenforced — among all attendees, regardless of their media affiliation.

While journalists may have no special rights superior to members of the public, they do not have fewer rights than others. A no-photography policy should apply to everyone. Nor should the perceived viewpoint of a news organization be regarded as grounds to deny admittance to a member of the media; people who make news do not have a license to dictate how and by whom they are covered. Those who believe they have been unfairly portrayed have the remedy of counter-speech, or if warranted, resort to civil legal remedies.

When an event is made accessible to public registrants, attendees inevitably will have, and will wish to use, personal recording devices. The SPJ of New Jersey encourages event organizers and speakers, wherever possible, to accommodate the journalistic recording of presentations of public interest, mindful that a verbatim recording is the most accurate representation of what was said, and that the lack of a verbatim recording will in no way prevent amateur “tweeters” from publishing after-the-fact recollections of varying trustworthiness.

Clarity about “the rules’’ serves everyone, regardless of who they are.

Ryan has used her criticism on Trump’s treatment of the press to surge into the spotlight. In August 2018, she claimed that Trump’s administration is “putting a target on our heads because we are asking questions maybe they don’t like.” She even wrote the book Under Fire: Reporting from the front lines of the Trump White House.

A free press for me, but not thee.

[Featured image via YouTube]


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