Yesterday morning I was sleeping late. I was awakened by an editor at The New York Post, telling me there had been a train wreck a few miles from me and asking whether I would cover it for them. (They’ve had my name and number on file ever since I covered the infamous Mark Sanford presser for them in 2009.)
I declined. There was a time, about 40 years ago, when I’d have been excited to run out in the rain and cover such a thing. But not yesterday. If they’d had a good political story to chase, maybe. But I left this one to the large crowd of reporters that I was sure was already out there.
One of them was Meg Kinnard of The Associated Press. This video she posted on Twitter reminds me of the thousand little hassles reporters run into in the course of doing their jobs:
WATCH: A man who identifies himself as Jim Hinton, a @LexingtonTwo school official, tries to force an injured #Amtrak victim, who wants to tell his story, off school property. Why? I ask: “Because I can!” He then threatened to sue me if I posted the video. https://t.co/6O7OLk4Nfc
— Meg Kinnard (@MegKinnardAP) February 4, 2018
This partial clip sort of makes it hard to tell what was really happening. The argument started before she started shooting. Obviously, Meg was a bit upset already by that point. Some will probably watch this and think she’s the aggressor and feel sorry for the school employee, who is clearly out of his depth. Especially the kind of people who despise White House press for getting aggressive when they get their rare shot at getting an answer.
I remember how stuff like this felt. You’re trying to do a job under tough circumstances, and somebody erects a barrier “because he can.” It’s pretty infuriating. You’re like Really? Like this wasn’t already difficult enough for all concerned? Kind of made me glad I left this story to Meg, et al. They seem to have done a fine job without me.
I just have one little complaint, Meg: Turn the phone sideways!
Hope this post gets back to the school district superintendent and trustee board chair. Embarrassing for the district if the reporter was not hassling the poor, dazed Amtrak passengers. Whoever that guy was (probably district security), he needs instruction on how to handle a situation like this. Schools frequently are used as evacuation sites, and security or school administrators should be instructed as how to handle things if the district media rep is not available on site.
Tough situation. That is why you have PR folks at school districts.
In Hinton’s defense, it looks to me a bit like campus territorialism spilling over from years of training on protecting children from the big bad world. Try walking your dog onto a school campus during a school day sometime. You’ll get the same reception. If you don’t have clearance, you’re not getting in.
And Kinnard’s Tweet is sensationalized. He wasn’t forcing the injured passenger off campus. He was forcing the reporter off campus. The passenger didn’t have to leave.
Must Trump be brought into this? This behavior has existed for decades. Remember the guy who got arrested for trying to peacefully protest George Bush at the airport? I see this attitude from TSA agents all the time.
Who brought Trump into it?
If that picture indicates anything, she looks like a sweetheart. If she walked up to me with that same look I’d kick her off the property too.
Hey, y’all — while I was out walking this afternoon, I got this FB message from Elise Partin, mayor of Cayce:
Well, when I got back to the office, I looked for it and couldn’t find it.
If any of y’all find it, let me know so I can post about it.
Personally, I thought what I posted was something that people could easily look at from different sides. As I said, I kind of felt a little sorry for the guy Meg was lighting into, and I thought the video was insufficient for me to draw strong conclusions from (you can’t really tell how things got to this pass). Sort of a Rorschach test. But I’ll be glad to post about this other thing, if I can find it…
OK, Elise got back to me and told me where to find it. Here it is…