Senators Demand Answers After Reporter Is 'Manhandled' At FCC Hearing

Senators maintain complained to the Federal Communications Commission after security guards pushed a journalist to a wall while he was covering a controversial FCC hearing to finish net neutrality.

Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) complained in a letter to the FCC Friday that the incident appears to be piece of a “sample of hostility toward the press characteristic of this administration, which underscores our serious concern.” Ending net neutrality and allowing service providers to restrict access to content is a darling of the Trump administration.

CQ Roll Call reporter John Donnelly on Thursday attempted to question FCC commissioner Michael O’Reilly after a press conference when two guards suddenly “pinned” the journalist to the wall until the commissioner had left, according to a statement from the National Press Club. 

One of the guards then “proceeded to force Donnelly to leave the building entirely under implied threat of force,” said the press club statement.

Donnelly said he “could not maintain been less threatening or more polite.” He added: “There is no justification for using force in such a situation.”

My main concern is ensuring no other reporter is mistreated at @FCC or anywhere else for doing his/her job. 2

— John M. Donnelly (@johnmdonnelly) May 19, 2017

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Friday joined the Democratic senators in demanding the FCC interpret what happened. 

“The Federal Communications Commission needs to do certain it doesn’t happen again,” Grassley said in a statement. “It’s standard operating procedure for reporters to demand questions of public officials after meetings and news conferences. It happens sum day, every day. There’s no sterling reason to achieve hands on a reporter who’s doing his or her job.”

Press club president Barbara Cochran said that the  “FCC and other government buildings are paid for by U.S. tax dollars, and officials who work there are accountable to the public through its representatives in the media.”

The FCC has apologized to Donnelly, it said in a statement to The Hill.

“We apologized to Mr. Donnelly more than once, and let him know that the FCC was on heightened alert based on several threats.”

At the assembly where Donnelly was roughed up, the FCC took the initial controversial steps toward rolling back a key provision of the net neutrality rules.

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