WASHINGTON — Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley Friday strongly criticized Federal Communications Commission security guards who manhandled a reporter Thursday at the agency’s headquarters.
“The Federal Communications Commission needs to take a hard look at why this happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Grassley said in his Friday statement. “As The Washington Post pointed out, it’s standard operating procedure for reporters to ask questions of public officials after meetings and news conferences.
It happens all day, every day. There’s no good reason to put hands on a reporter who’s doing his or her job.”
The reporter, John M. Donnelly of CQ Roll Call said he angered plain clothes security staffers when he attempted to question commissioners before the officials went to the podium at a press conference Thursday, according to a statement from the National Press Club (NPC).
“Throughout the FCC meeting, the security guards had shadowed Donnelly as if he were a security threat, he said, even though he continuously displayed his congressional press pass and held a tape recorder and notepad. They even waited for him outside the men’s room at one point,” the statement from the NPC said.
The statement continued, “When Donnelly strolled in an unthreatening way toward FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly to pose a question, two guards pinned Donnelly against the wall with the backs of their bodies until O’Rielly had passed. O’Rielly witnessed this and continued walking.”
Donnelly was then asked by another guard, Frederick Bucher, why he did not ask his question during the press conference before Bucher ordered Donnelly out of the building “by threat of force.”
The commissioner reportedly apologized after the National Press Club and others expressed concern.
According to the NPC, it is not the first time Bucher has gone after a reporter unfairly. Bloomberg News reporter Todd Shields told Donnelly that Bucher confiscated his press badge when the journalist interviewed a demonstrator at an FCC meeting last summer.
Similarly, the FCC apologized for Bucher’s actions and gave back Shields’ press badge.