Richard J. “Chip” Callahan, University of Missouri professor and chair of religious studies, apologized last night to student photojournalist Tim Tai for his involvement in Monday’s videotaped dispute at the school’s Carnahan Quadrangle. “[H]e apologized and I accepted,” wrote Tai in an e-mail to the Erik Wemple Blog.
For what actions, specifically, did Callahan apologize? “Just like the way he acted — I guess, getting in my face and yelling about it,” said Tai in a phone interview. “He tried to follow me around the circle a little bit … hounding me.”
Callahan did not respond to several requests for comment from the Erik Wemple Blog yesterday. Today we asked him about the apology, and he replied: “I can confirm that I apologized to Tim. I have no further comment.”
As this blog explained yesterday, Callahan is the man in glasses who engages Tai in an adversarial discussion at the outset of the video of the confrontation:
As Tai pleads with folks to respect his right to take photographs on public space, Callahan attempts to block his sight lines and is never seen sticking up for the journalist’s right to do his work. Tai says that Callahan gave him an accounting of his mind-set at the time: “He was only thinking about the safety of the students of the Concerned Student 1950 group and he never even thought about journalists’ right to be there,” a position that Tai said he understands, given the “passion and high emotions” on the quad. There had been some “intrusions” on the tent encampment on a previous night, Callahan reported to Tai, and so he and others were “on edge and trying to be very protective.”
Though the other MU employees involved in Monday’s anti-First Amendment activities — staffer Janna Basler and assistant professor of communication Melissa Click — have issued public letters of apology, Callahan won’t be doing the same. “He didn’t want to issue a public statement because he was trying to reduce publicity instead of staying in the spotlight,” says Tai.