Chicago, Illinois, July 17, 2012 – It was another scorcher of a day in
But not all was peaceful as top aides to Emanuel conspired to ambush and assault a conservative reporter – me.
That morning, Rahm Emanuel had already appeared on national news, parroting the Obama campaign’s talking points on Mitt Romney, Bain Capital, and the outsourcing of jobs.
Emanuel mocked Romney for demanding an apology from Team Obama after campaign surrogates floated the idea that Romney was a felon last week.
“As Mitt Romney said once to his own Republican colleagues: Stop whining. I’ll give him his own advice: Stop whining,” said Emanuel, appearing on ABC’s “This Week” with his former White House colleague George Stephanopolous.
With no experience as an investment banker, Emanuel made $18 million in just two-and- a-half years on Wall Street by exploiting his White House political contacts.
That made it fair game to ask Emanuel about his own business acumen and whether his old Wall Street firm, Wasserstein Perella, ever invested in companies that outsourced jobs.
I also thought it fair to ask Emanuel about his former boss, President Obama, and the President’s lack of business experience – unless you count his dealings with convicted felon Antonin “Tony” Rezko.
But a credentialed conservative reporter – being such an anomaly in
It apparently means Mayor Rahm Emanuel can order his staff and security to surround, shove, and elbow you repeatedly to prevent you from asking any potentially embarrassing questions.
Top mayoral staff – including Deputy Chief of Staff Felicia Davis, Press Secretary Tarrah Cooper, Emanuel’s chief of security, and other staff - shadowed me for the entire event on Sunday.
As I walked down the public sidewalk with other members of the media, Deputy Chief of Staff Felicia Davis pushed me from one side of the street to the other, crossing Emanuel’s path as I tried to ask him a question.
Emanuel, well-known for his f-bombs and Chicago thug tactics, was grinning ear-to-ear.
Then Rahm’s security person elbowed and shoved me until I stopped asking.
Unlike Emanuel’s staff, had I responded in kind, I would have been charged with battery – which
I knew enough to keep my hands to myself. The mayor’s staff, quite obviously, didn’t.
Then while the speeches were taking place – it happened again.
I was at the back of the crowd and attempt to move closer to the stage. Davis and her aides, again, repeatedly blocked me and the security chief elbowed me, turning to me with a “no!”
No?! No to what?
No to me moving? No to me walking? No to me asking any questions?
It was like a surreal, sinister Charlie Chaplin movie. I tried to find the humor in it and just let the cameras roll.
“Stop the violence,” I mocked them. “Listen to Pastor Corey Brooks’ message.”
After I listened to the speeches, three – yes, I said three - Chicago Police lieutenants stopped me and said they needed to check my media credentials.
The parking lot was filled with former and present gang members and I was being “questioned.” Scores of media from outlets like ABC, NBC, and CBS were present with cameras rolling. None were detained or hassled.
They were allowed to do their job. I was being prevented from doing mine.
“You aren’t wearing your credentials that’s why you got checked out,” said the
“Except that I don’t see any of the other reporters wearing their credentials,” I said, pointing out members of the media to him.
“They’ve already been checked,” he said dismissively.
I arrived early at the event and never saw a single police officer checking the credentials of any other reporter on the public parking lot where the event was taking place.
After I was given the “OK,” by the police, I went back to the job of reporting and attempted once more to get the answers to the questions I came for.
And, once again, the mayor’s staff and security blocked, surrounded, shoved, and elbowed me away in what appeared to be a very coordinated effort to prevent me from asking any questions.
At numerous points, five staff people at a time.
It was like a ridiculous game of political ring-around-the-rosie.
The shoving became violent enough that I finally told a police officer that I wanted to file battery charges.
“Officer, I’m being assaulted here. I’m being assaulted, I’m sorry,” I told him.
“I’m the First Deputy [to Emanuel],” said Felicia Davis to the officer.
“You’re the First Deputy? No, no, no, I’m trying to ask a question,” I said.
What did Rahm Emanuel order his staff to do? Did he order them to single me out and attempt to physically prevent me from asking questions?
There was a reason I was singled out: I ask tough, embarrassing questions that go viral to politicians that don’t want me to ask them.
But is that a justification for Emanuel to order his staff to prevent me from exercising my First Amendment rights of free speech and press?
The incident raises other critical questions: Are public officials and their staffs exempt from the law? Should police be used to prevent journalists from asking public officials questions? Is
Or does it just depend on the questions and who is asking them?
Emanuel complains about Romney being a whiner.
Funny, I thought “a whiner” was someone who was afraid that Big Bad Bill Kelly might possibly ask him a tough question.
Just one more day of thug politics in the annals of ‘the
Conservative commentator and satirist William J. Kelly is also a contributor to Breitbart.com and edits the Tea Party Reports for the
Email questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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