GOP Convention nuts-throwing incident not a police matter: Secret Service


(Anonymous/AP)

As reported by TPM, someone attending the Republican National Convention hurled nuts at a black crew person for CNN and said this: “This is how we feed animals.”

GOP attendee ejected for throwing nuts at African American CNN camera woman + saying “This is how we feed animals.” @takeactionnews #TAN

— David Shuster (@DavidShuster) August 29, 2012

If true: Barbaric, unheard of, unfathomable.

CNN has confirmed an incident, telling TPM: “CNN can confirm there was an incident directed at an employee inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum earlier this afternoon. CNN worked with convention officials to address this matter and will have no further comment.”

Based on the limited details thus far, the episode will have at least a full day in the news cycle. There’ll be the quest to find both the employee against whom the incident was directed as well as the person who directed the incident. There’ll be a search for other witnesses as well. If those details drip and drip and drip, the event could pose a distraction for the goings-on, though we have no idea who did it and what connection the person may have to the convention.

One thing is now safe to rule out: Criminal charges. A call to the Tampa police department late tonight brought a referral to the Secret Service, which has jurisdiction over the interior of the convention venue. A Secret Service official told me that they’re referring calls on the incident to the Republican National Committee. Not a police matter, in other words.

It is, however, a matter for CNN. It knows all the details of this event. How will the network balance a workplace issue — someone on the job enduring an insulting outburst — with a matter of public interest? Resolving that conflict must start with the preferences of the crew person. But the presumption should fall in favor of doing the story in all of its detail, regardless of whether the details are more or less damaging than what’s been reported.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.

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