Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, followed into an elevator by a CBS crew, knocked a television camera out of the hands of a cameraman today, CBS said. A lawyer on the elevator said the camera had struck Burger in the face.
A videotape shown on tonight's CBS Evening News showed one of Burger's hands reaching toward the camera, then a wildly shifting scene. He was heard to say, "Don't stick that thing in my nose."
Lincoln attorney Richard A. Knudsen said that he was on the elevator when the incident occurred and that Burger did not appear to strike at the camera.
Knudsen said that after the elevator door closed, Burger said he had been hit by the camera. There was no indication that the chief justice had been hurt.
CBS said its crew had been trying to question Burger about statements in a forthcoming book by former White House aide John D. Ehrlichman that Burger discussed pending Supreme Court cases with then-president Nixon. Burger did not respond to the questions, CBS said.
The incident occurred before Burger gave a speech on prison reform at the University of Nebraska.
CBS reporter Derrick Blakley said, "When the crew attempted to get in the elevator with him, the chief justice turned and reached out and knocked the camera off the photographer's shoulder and said, 'Get that thing out of here,' and knocked the camera to the floor and later said, 'You keep that thing out of my face.' "