Photojournalist Jim Lo Scalzo has accused Congressman Louie Gohmert (representing my hometown, by the way) of intentionally blocking him from doing his job. Both the photographer and the Representative were at the confirmation hearing of Jeff Sessions when some people protesting his nomination got rowdy and had to be escorted out of the building.
Dallas News reports: Photographer Jim Lo Scalzo was busy snapping pictures of protesters being escorted out of the hearing room Tuesday when, he said, Gohmert attempted to stand between his camera and the action.
“When I asked him, ‘Are you seriously blocking me from making these pictures of these protesters?’ he said, ‘Yes,’ ” said Lo Scalzo, who works for the European Pressphoto Agency. “He said, ‘The story is not there,’ and then he pointed to Sessions and said, ‘The story is over there.’ “
Sure, Jeff Sessions is certainly a newsworthy subject, considering his reputation and the important position he has been thrust into. Don’t you think that maybe the fact that there are people protesting his nomination counts as a good story, too? Then again, what do I know?
Rep. Gohmert didn’t deny getting in the way of the camera, interestingly. However, like the mature adult we all know Congressmen to be, he quickly pointed the finger away from himself and said, “but he started it!”
Noting that as a former felony judge, he worked with photographers inside courtrooms, Gohmert said the photographers broke protocol when they “jumped up” in front of him as a protest erupted. Gohmert was seated in the audience at the end of a row, near the exit door.
Yeah! How dare the journalists break protocol by getting in the way of a Congressman who happened to be in the audience?! Don’t they realize how important his job there is, to sit and not be involved in the proceedings?
The congressman said his actions didn’t constitute censorship, but he didn’t deny standing in front of the photographers’ lens.
Oh, okay, so it’s not censorship, you’re just giving a hard time to one guy whose trying to do his job. Got it!
Representative Gohmert went on to say that, were it his courtroom, he would have thrown out the photographers with the protestors. In general, photographers and journalists in courtrooms are allowed, but advised to keep low and avoid blocking anyone’s view. Photographer Lo Scalzo, on the other hand, insists that he did not inhibit Louie’s view of the proceedings in any way, as the hearing had been temporarily halted to kick out the protestors.
“This is the first time in 23 years of covering Capitol Hill that I have seen a lawmaker attempt to physically prevent photojournalists from making a picture in a public place,” he said. “Given increasing animosity to the media among politicians in Washington, I fear it may not be the last.”
Well, no matter who was right and who was wrong in this situation, there is one silver lining: the photo that did get taken!
Just look at that smug little grin. Look at it! Isn’t that amazing?!