Even after Blitzer called McKinney footage "not unusual at all," CNN continued to air it while ignoring footage of DeLay supporter in altercation

››› ››› ROB MORLINO

CNN's American Morning twice aired video footage showing a confrontation between a TV reporter and an aide to Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) outside the Capitol, despite the fact that the previous day, CNN's Wolf Blitzer described the confrontation as "not unusual at all." By contrast, CNN has not once mentioned or aired a video of a supporter for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), part of a group of DeLay supporters who disrupted a press conference by DeLay's former election opponent, who pulled a hat over the face of a 69-year-old woman.

On April 7, CNN's American Morning twice aired video footage supplied by affiliate WSB-TV of Atlanta showing a confrontation between WSB reporter Scott MacFarlane and an aide to Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) outside the Capitol, despite the fact that on April 6, shortly after the incident occurred, CNN host Wolf Blizter described it as "not unusual at all." Blitzer added that "having been involved in these kinds of incidents myself over many, many years, covering politicians and others when you're trying to get a comment, obviously, you get a little bit aggressive," and that "[c]learly, this happens all the time, especially when a reporter is anxious for some sort of direct comment and the individual doesn't necessarily want to give that direct comment." Nevertheless, American Morning anchors Miles O'Brien and Soledad O'Brien both introduced the video footage of the "scuffle" between MacFarlane and McKinney's aide, noting that the incident was publicized shortly after McKinney had apologized for a March 29 incident in which she allegedly struck a police officer at a Capitol Hill security checkpoint. Despite Blitzer's conclusion the previous day that the "scuffle" was "by no means unusual," Miles O'Brien advised viewers: "Watch what happens when a television reporter tries to question McKinney outside the Capitol."

By contrast, CNN has not once mentioned or aired a video from Houston TV station KPRC shot during an April 6 press conference held by former Rep. Nick Lampson (D-TX), who is running for Texas' 22nd District seat that is currently held by Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), who announced his intention to resign from Congress on April 3. Lampson had called the press conference to demand DeLay resign his House seat immediately, a conference that was disrupted by DeLay supporters in a protest organized by DeLay's campaign manager. Lampson issued a press release noting that the KPRC footage, which involved a DeLay supporter and 69-year-old Lampson supporter Marsha Rovai, shows the DeLay supporter "grabbing Ms. Rovai's hat and jerking it down over her face." The footage was posted to the website Crooks and Liars.

From the April 6 broadcast of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: [Correspondent] Brian [Todd], stand by for one moment. I want to show our viewers a little video we just got, video that shows yet another modest confrontation involving someone working for the congresswoman and a reporter. This happened just a little while ago on Capitol Hill. Take a look at this tape that we received from our affiliate station, WSB. Listen to this.

[begin video clip]

MacFARLANE: Hello again. Ms. McKinney, did you speak to the grand jury at all? Have you spoken to a grand jury, Mrs. McKinney? Have you spoken at all to the grand jury about anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to put your ass in jail the next time you push me.

MacFARLANE: Sir, do you work for the Capitol Police?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't work for the Capitol Police.

MacFARLANE: Who are you a police officer with, sir?

[end video clip]

BLITZER: All right, that's the video. Brian Todd, have you had a chance to speak with her office and get some comment on this videotape?

TODD: Wolf, I did call her office just a short time ago and spoke with her communications director. He told me that she does not -- there are no bodyguards that are in her employ, at least not here in D.C. So this gentlemen on the tape here, apparently, is not a bodyguard. I asked if there were any aides involved in this. He said there were aides walking along with her and with her the time of this incident and later on inside the Capitol. But what he told me just a short time ago was that none of her aides would act with what I believe he characterized as the level of unprofessionalism or impropriety as to commit such an act when I described to him what was on this tape. So we're getting a little bit of conflict, at least from her office on this.

BLITZER: All right, Brian. I got to tell you, having been involved in these kinds of incidents myself over many, many years, covering politicians and others when you're trying to get a comment, obviously, you get a little bit aggressive. This is by no means unusual, this little bumping and shoving that was going on. Clearly, this happens all the time, especially when a reporter is anxious for some sort of direct comment and the individual doesn't necessarily want to give that direct comment. There's always a little exchange going on. That's not unusual at all. Brian, thanks very much for your good reporting.

From the April 7 edition of CNN's American Morning:

MILES O'BRIEN: But even as McKinney tries to put this one to rest, another scuffle to tell you about. This time involving a man in the congresswoman's entourage. Watch what happens when a television reporter tries to question McKinney outside the Capitol.

[begin video clip]

MacFARLANE: Hello again. Ms. McKinney, did you speak to the grand jury at all? Have you spoken to a grand jury, Ms. McKinney? Have you spoken at all to the grand jury about anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to put your ass in jail next time you push me.

MacFARLANE: Sir, do you work for the Capitol Police?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't work for the Capitol Police.

MacFARLANE: Who are you a police officer with, sir?

[end video clip]

O'BRIEN: All right. You heard McKinney's assistant there and driver tell the reporter he's a police officer. An aide to McKinney, however, describes him as the congresswoman's driver and a personal friend.

[...]

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Cynthia McKinney is accused of hitting the officer when he tried to stop her from entering a House office building last week. A grand jury is investigating the case. Even as McKinney tries to put the issue to rest, another little scuffle to tell you about. This time involving a reporter and a guy who's in the congresswoman's entourage. Take a look. A television reporter runs up to the congresswoman, tries to question her. This happened right outside the Capitol.

[begin video clip]

MacFARLANE: Hello again. Ms. McKinney, did you speak to the grand jury at all? Have you spoken to a grand jury, Mrs. McKinney? Have you spoken at all to the grand jury about anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to put your ass in jail the next time you push me.

MacFARLANE: Sir, do you work for the Capitol Police?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't work for the Capitol Police.

MacFARLANE: Who are you a police officer with, sir?

[end video clip]

O'BRIEN: You heard McKinney's guy tell the reporter that he's a police officer. An aide to McKinney, however, says the man is the congresswoman's driver and also a personal friend. Well, maybe that settles it all.

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