Democratic congressman apologizes for grabbing videographer

By David Edwards
Monday, June 14, 2010 14:29 EDT
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A Democratic congressman from North Carolina has apologized after a conservative Web site posted an edited video showing he had a testy exchange with its anonymous filmmaker.

Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com posted the video of Rep. Bob Etheridge Monday. In the clip, the congressman is met by several young men who claim to be working on a college project.

“Do you fully support the Obama agenda?” asks one student.

“Who are you? Who are you?” demands Etheridge as he pushes the camera away.

The congressman takes a tight hold of the student’s wrist and won’t let go.

“Tell me who you are,” he continues to demand.

“We’re just here for a project, sir,” the student responds but refuses to identify himself. “We’re just here for a project. Will you please let go of my hand?”

“I have a right to know who you are,” says Etheridge.

The congressman grabs the student by the neck and pulls him close. After a minor protest, he lets the student go.

The posters of the YouTube video describe the confrontation as an “assault.”

In a statement on his Web site, Etheridge apologized for his actions:

“I have seen the video posted on several blogs. I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved. Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina, I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse.”

“Bob Etheridge has lost it. His conduct is unbecoming of a member of Congress. It’s bad enough that he’s joined Obama’s assault on North Carolina jobs, but his physical assault on a college student goes beyond the pale,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Jon Thompson told ABC 11.

Even liberals have condemned Etheridge’s actions. “Rep. Bob Etheridge should be arrested for assault,” wrote Salon’s Glenn Greenwald.

But Mediaite’s Colby Hall suspects that the congressman may have come out on top. “Yeah — he comes off as a jerk, but…when in Rome. It will be interesting to follow how this story plays out in the news media. Will it be a big story? Probably not, but apparently being prepared for ambush interviews from eager college kids is the next phase of media training for many on Capitol Hill,” wrote Hall.

This video is from Stage Right Now, uploaded to YouTube June 14, 2010.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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