Reporter says security 'manhandled' him after he asked FCC questions

Reporter says security 'manhandled' him after he asked FCC questions
© Greg Nash

Security guards reportedly “manhandled” an award-winning reporter after he asked Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials questions at a public hearing Thursday, according to a National Press Club (NPC) statement. 

John Donnelly, a journalist at CQ Roll Call, was removed from the scheduled press conference by security after he attempted to ask the commissioners questions before they arrived at the podium. 

 

 

Donnelly said two guards, using the backs of their bodies, pinned him to the wall while FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly passed. They then escorted him out of the event.

“I could not have been less threatening or more polite,” Donnelly said, according to the NPC release on the matter. “There is no justification for using force in such a situation.”

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The security at the monthly open meeting was unusually high, as the FCC had recently voted on the high-profile issue of net neutrality. 

“[W]e apologized to Mr. Donnelly more than once and let him know that the FCC was on heightened alert today based on several threats,” a spokesman for the FCC said in an email Thursday.

NPC President Jeff Ballou condemned the guard’s physical handling in the release.

“Donnelly was doing his job and doing it with his characteristic civility,” Ballou said. “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.” 

The interaction comes a week after a reporter was arrested at the West Virginia State Capitol after trying to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price a question about the House-passed healthcare bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare.