It seems like it was only yesterday that left-wing independent media journalists were getting arrested for trying to access press conferences at private universities.
Now it’s a right-wing independent media journalist getting handcuffed for trying to enter an award ceremony dedicated to Katie Couric at the University of Southern California, a private university.
His name is John Ziegler and apparently he is a former radio DJ from Los Angeles. I had not heard of him until my email box lit up with news of his “arrest.”
His website proudly proclaims that he is endorsed by Rush Limbaugh – who recently chastised President Barack Obama for ordering the killing of Somali pirates who had taken an American merchant captain hostage for five days.
While I am the first to jump to the defense of a journalist getting arrested, I would take Ziegler much more serious had he wiped that smirk off his face the entire time he was being handcuffed.
I’ve seen more earnestness from reporters at The Daily Show.
And no, this has nothing to do with my partisanship. It has to do with my professionalism.
It was obvious Ziegler purposely attended the event to disrupt. He even tried to hand out copies of his movie – which is soliciting on private property - something a journalist would never do (unless he was the one being featured).
He’s lucky he dealt with USC police, who were extremely gentle and professional with him, instead of University of Florida police.
The only issue I had in this video was when one of the cops ordered the videographer to turn the camera off. They had nothing to hide so they should have allowed the camera to roll.
Ziegler’s mocking antics undermine legitimate attempts at journalism like the one of a Denver news producer getting arrested for trying to find out the identities of wealthy donors invited to the Democratic National Convention last year.
Or a Washington DC radio reporter getting his sound card confiscated while trying to interview a disabled veteran this month.
Had Ziegler wanted to cover the event legitimately, he could have done what most media companies do. Call in advance to get his name on the list.
That’s what I did when I attended the John McCain rally at the University of Miami last year. And I am hardly the epitome of a right-wing journalist. Nor do I work for a major mainstream media company.
Regardless, I was still treated with the same professionalism that I displayed.
And so was Ziegler.