On Monday afternoon, several political reporters posted videos of a violent exchange between a reporter holding a camera and a security guard, who some have identified as a Secret Service agent. The confrontation took place during a rally for Donald Trump at Radford University in Virginia.
Joe Perticone, a congressional reporter at the Independent Journal, posted the video with some context.
In the video, one can see the reporter, who has been identified as Time photographer Chris Morris, indicating that the guard had put his hands around Morris’ neck.
Gabby Morrongiello, a reporter for the Washington Examiner who was also on the scene, told Jezebel in an email that Morris had attempted to exit the press pen to take a photograph of a group of students protesting Trump.
“He was a credentialed member of the media,” she confirmed, “although Trump’s staff is adamant about keeping reporters in the press pen until after the rally has concluded.”
The Huffington Post reports that the campaign has been aggressive toward the media:
But in recent weeks, journalists have again been ordered not to leave the press pen by campaign staffers and volunteers and even Secret Service agents, according to reporters who were granted anonymity to speak candidly. Journalists also said they were not allowed to approach the candidate to ask questions after events. The Trump campaign, at times, has ignored its November agreement with the press corps and, even more troubling, the Secret Service has appeared to enforce the campaign’s press restrictions, reporters say.
In a statement, a Secret Service spokesman said the agency’s role is not to restrict press.
“The Secret Service is aware of concerns involving press movements during some Campaign events. Campaign events are hosted by the candidate’s staff,” the spokesman said. “Any restrictions on press movements above and beyond security related procedures are designated and enforced by staff, not by the Secret Service.”
The rally seems to have devolved into a shitshow. Reportedly, the supporters have been confronted by groups of protesters, some chanting “Black Lives Matter.” According to WSET’s Annie Andersen, Trump called activists “the enemy.”
Time has not yet responded to request for comment. We’ll update this post as we hear more.
Update (2:05 p.m.): The Trump campaign has responded to the incident with the following statement:
Update (2:15 p.m.): Morris told CNN’s Jim Acosta what happened:
“I stepped 18 inches out of the pen and he grabbed me by the neck and he started choking me and then slammed me to the ground,” he said.
Update (2:40 p.m.): Several newly-posted videos provide more details about the confrontation. Another video taken moments before the altercation, and posted on Twitter by Perticone, shows Morris saying, “Fuck you,” to the guard when he is barred from taking a photograph.
An Instagram video taken from farther away shows the guard clearly choke Morris and push him to the ground. While the video has since been taken down, Mashable captured a good gif.
Update (4:15 p.m.): The Secret Service has provided a statement:
Time also posted a statement on their website:
TIME has contacted the U.S. Secret Service to express concerns about the level and nature of the agent’s response. Morris has also expressed remorse for his part in escalating the confrontation. A TIME spokesperson said, “We are relieved that Chris is feeling OK, and we expect him to be back at work soon.”
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