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In an obvious attempt to silence our nation’s veterans, VA officials seized audio equipment from an NPR journalist attempting to interview a veteran about dismal  medical care within the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Washington DC. David Schultz said he approached veteran Tommie Cana

VA officials seize reporter's equipment during interview with veteran


In an obvious attempt to silence our nation’s veterans, VA officials seized audio equipment from an NPR journalist attempting to interview a veteran about dismal  medical care within the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Washington DC.

David Schultz said he approached veteran Tommie Canady for an interview after the 56-year-old veteran had spoken at a town hall meeting Tuesday night, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

But a VA employee, Gloria Hairston, interrupted the interview, demanding that Schultz hand over his equipment, including a microphone, headphones and digital recorder. The VA employee then summoned uniform officers to help intimidate the reporter into handing over his equipment.

According to WTOP.com:

She was aided by at least two other employees of the V.A. and four armed security guards.

One of those veterans, an amputee in a wheelchair, approached Schultz and asked him for his phone number.

“I started to give it to him and then the woman {Hairston} became irate, she said you can’t give him your phone number. You have to give me all of your equipment or I’m going to get ugly. She used the phrase ‘get ugly,’” Schultz says,

Schultz contacted the WAMU news director, described by WTOP as “longtime newsman Jim Asendio,” who advised him to hand over the sound card. For me, this is the most infuriating part of the story.

“I told him to give them the flash card and get out of there,” Asendio says. “I didn’t want this to get out of hand.”

Schultz reluctantly handed over the memory card from his recorder.

Asendio, if you really had any news sense, you would have asked to speak to the commanding officer on the scene and asked if your reporter was being detained. If not, then tell your reporter to walk on out of there without handing over anything. If so, then tell your reporter to eat it up and you’ll have him bailed out as soon as possible.

Under no circumstances should you have given in to the intimidation. Even Schultz, a 26-year-old reporter who is at the start of his career, has lost respect for you.

“I’ve been a reporter for two and a half, three years, I’m sort of at the beginning of my career,” Schultz says. “I wish I had handled it differently, I think they preyed on my inexperience and I really feel bad about that.”

There is no excuse. You should be fired, Asendio.

The VA officials claimed they intervened because Schultz had “took advantage” of Canady in attempting to interview him without a consent form. They also said that Schultz never identified himself as a reporter – as if all his audio equipment didn’t provide a clue.

However, Canady consented to an interview the following day in a segment that ran on WAMU in Washington DC, an affiliate of National Public Radio. In the interview, which can only be heard if you have a PC (unless someone can tell me how to hear it on a Mac), Canady stated the following:

“It makes me mad, because I’m grown, and I’ll talk to whoever I want to. You know what I mean? And it makes me feel like you have something to hide. That you’re worried that something might get out that you don’t want to get out. I think it’s un-American. I really do.”

Canady also accused the VA Hospital of serious negligence, especially against black veterans. He also accused a nurse of overdosing him on two separate occasions with 600 mg. of morphine (I heard it on my PC laptop).

Meanwhile, WAMU is trying to get the sound card back.

Unfortunately, WAMU has been unsuccessful in retrieving the memory card which remains in the hands of the federal government.

“Our lawyers are working on that,” Asendio says.

On Thursday afternoon, Asendio hand-delivered a letter from WAMU’s general manager to the V.A Hospital demanding the return of the memory card. When he tried to deliver a copy of the letter to V.A. headquarters, he was turned away.

Of course he was turned away. They already know he has no balls.

The RCFP states that the federal law Privacy Protection Act of 1980 makes it illegal for a government officer or employee to search for or seize a journalist’s “work product materials.”

Via The Agitator

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.

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