A journalist says he was roughed up by security guards when he tried to question a Federal Communications Commission official after a news conference.
"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", according to a release sent out by the the National Press Club. One guard, identified as FREDERICK BUCHER, asked DONNELLY why he didn't ask his question during the formal press conference, then "proceeded to force DONNELLY to leave the building entirely under implied threat of force".
"It may just be a case of a sort-of mall cop run amok, and I have no evidence that there's anything more than that", Donnelly described the incident. "There is no justification for using force in such a situation".
During the FCC meeting, Donnelly said he was "shadowed" around the building by security personnel, who even waited for him outside a bathroom while he used the facilities.
The FCC did not specify the nature of the threats.
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In a series of tweets to Donnelly Thursday, O'Rielly, a Republican appointed to the commission by President Barack Obama in 2013, also personally apologized to Donnelly and said he didn't recognize the reporter in the hallway or see any "physical touching".
"I am very sorry this occurred", O'Rielly tweeted.More news: US extends Iran nuclear sanctions relief
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The incident comes at a time of growing and undisguised hostility toward the press in the upper ranks of government.
The FCC commissioners were speaking after a meeting during which they voted to kick off the repeal of "net neutrality" rules created to keep broadband providers from interfering with the internet.
A veteran reporter says he was "manhandled" by two security guards at an FCC public hearing Thursday in DC after he attempted to ask a follow-up question.
"Donnelly was doing his job and doing it with his characteristic civility", said NPC President Jeff Ballou, according to Shoo's report.
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".
According to the National Press Club, Bucher took a press badge from Bloomberg reporter Todd Shields a year ago after Shields spoke with a protester at an FCC meeting. The NPC statement notes that while officials don't have to answer, "reporters can ask questions in any area of a public building that is not marked off as restricted to them".
Donnelly said he appreciated the FCC's apology and hoped it leads to changes in how reporters and the public are treated.