Reporter: I Approached FCC Official, Was Pinned to Wall

Reporter says security 'manhandled' him after he asked FCC questions

Reporter John Donnelly said he asked FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly questions when the official was not in front of the podium - causing security guards to allegedly shadow him, wait for him outside a men's room and pin him against a wall as the commissioner passed by, according to a release from the National Press Club.

Security guards at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) headquarters in Washington, D.C., manhandled a reporter and forced him to leave for trying to ask FCC commissioners questions Thursday, according to the reporter.

"One of the guards, Frederick Bucher, asked Donnelly why he had not posed his question during the press conference".

"Incidents like these, occurring under a president who has openly threatened a free press, take on a greater and more ominous significance", the National Press Club said in a statement Friday.

The "hearing" was the FCC's public meeting at which O'Rielly and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai voted to launch the rollback of Title II, a move that has inflamed net neutrality activists and helped generate more than 2 million comments to the FCC. "Reporters can ask questions in any area of a public building that is not marked off as restricted to them. Officials who are fielding the questions don't have to answer", he said.

In a statement to Recode's Tony Romm, the FCC said it apologized to Donnelly for the incident.

"Donnelly was doing his job and doing it with his characteristic civility", NPC President Jeff Ballou said in a statement. The guards then told Donnelly to leave the premise.

"We apologized to Mr. Donnelly a couple of times and let him know that the FCC was on heightened alert today based on several threats", said an FCC spokesperson, who had no further details on the incident.

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Bucher had another confrontation with a journalist last summer.

According to the National Press Club, Bucher took a press badge from Bloomberg reporter Todd Shields previous year after Shields spoke with a protester at an FCC meeting.

"If you see something, say something: in print, online or over the air".

"I was a commissioner". "Particularly when we're at our place of business and doing the public's work, it shouldn't surprise us when the press asks us questions. It goes with the job".

"I'm hopeful that this incident and the attention it's gotten has made other agencies sit up and say, 'We don't want this kind of blow-back and we need to train our security people about the 1st Amendment, ' " he said.

"I thought they were just doing it to prevent anyone from getting too close to the commissioners, which I would understand as a security measure, " Donnelly told Mic.

Donnelly, a well-known specialist in defense and military affairs, serves as president of the Military Reporters and Editors Association.

This article originally was published at 12:45 p.m.

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