Covering an event at the Veterans Affairs Hospital last Tuesday, a representative of the Department demanded WAMU reporter David Schultz hand over his equipment and recordings.
Schultz was interviewing a veteran about the poor treatment he was receiving at the facility when an “internal communications specialist” with the Department of Veterans Affairs demanded that he stop recording the interview and turn over his equipment.
After the incident, WTOP spoke with Schultz, who said, “She said I wouldn’t be allowed to leave” and “I became worried that I was going to get arrested.”
Schultz ended up giving the VA rep the memory card from his recorder at the advice of his boss WAMU’s Jim Asendio, who didn’t want the situation to get out of hand. “I wish I had handled it differently, I think they preyed on my inexperience and I really feel bad about that,” Schultz also tells WTOP. He feels worst for his interview subject. “He was trying to tell his story, he has an amazing story and he was denied a chance to tell his story to the media because of these tactics.”
WAMU has so far been unable to retrieve the memory card, and therefore the interview, from the Department. In the WTOP piece, RTNDA President Barbara Cochran says there is no legal justification for these action.
Read the rest of WTOP’s coverage here.