“Nation contributor forcibly removed from Helsinki press conference” — that’s the subject line on an email sent Monday afternoon from Nation editor and publisher (and Post contributor) Katrina vanden Heuvel. Here’s the text:
This morning, Sam Husseini, a Nation contributor covering the summit in Helsinki, Finland, was forcibly removed from a Trump-Putin press conference. This is a developing situation that we will be following closely.
At a time when this administration consistently denigrates the media, we’re deeply troubled by these reports. Independent journalism is needed more than ever to confront a White House that considers media the enemy of the people, and relentlessly attacks the media in order to delegitimize checks on this administration’s abuse of power.
The Nation’s journalism is grounded in our ferocious belief that a free and independent press is vital to our democracy. I hope you will consider making a donation to support that journalism today.
Stitching together the events is a bit tricky. Televised coverage of the news conference in Helsinki between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin caught some of the commotion. As Kelly O’Donnell of NBC News reported, a credentialed rep of the Nation was being ejected from the event, allegedly for heckling. He left with a security escort, apparently without incident. Then he returned and brandished a sign saying “Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty.”
A CBS News White House correspondent was quoted on her own website as saying, “It started when he was heckling those of us who were in the middle of reporting and two members of the security detail confronted him about it. He came out and showed a sign that he apparently made that said ‘nuclear weapon [ban] treaty’ and that’s when this all unfolded and intensified.”
See the video below to watch security types forcibly remove Husseini after he’d reentered the media area:
Caitlin Graf, a spokeswoman for the Nation, issued this statement about the proceedings: “Sam Husseini, communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, received press accreditation from The Nation to cover the summit between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. At a time when this administration consistently denigrates the media, we’re troubled by reports that he was forcibly removed from the press conference before the two leaders began to take questions. This is a developing situation that we will be following closely.”
The Erik Wemple Blog followed up with Graf about the reports of heckling, prompting this response: “I cannot speak to those reports as we were not there, but the video we’ve seen is of Husseini making an audible statement — ‘I want to ask a question about this issue.’ I believe that journalists should endeavor to ask questions! We take threats to press freedom seriously, and letting our readers know about this situation, along with the importance of supporting the journalistic work we do, is aligned with The Nation’s mission of public-interest accountability journalism.”
An attempt to reach Husseini via phone was unsuccessful.