ATHENS, GA (February 29, 2016) – The National Press Photographers Association deplores today’s unfortunate incident between a U.S. Secret Service agent and veteran White House photographer Christopher Morris, who was covering the Trump campaign for TIME magazine at Radford University in Virginia. [News story here.]
"We assert the function of the U.S. Secret Service at these events is to provide security and deescalate confrontational situations, not create them," NPPA president Melissa Lyttle said.
"It is apparent from various videos of the incident that the agent involved violently threw Mr. Morris to the ground while holding him around the neck. If indeed all Mr. Morris was attempting to do was step out of the press pen to photograph a newsworthy event happening at the rear of the room, the agent clearly overreacted."
NPPA also notes that reporters and photographers are generally allowed to move around at other political events, but it appears that the Trump campaign has a strict policy requiring journalists to remain inside a closed-in press area, while others admitted to the event have no such restrictions. NPPA believes that this is another bald-faced attempt to control the media and the message, and limits meaningful press coverage of these events. While the press may not have any greater right of access than the public, they should have no less right either.
Additionally, statements by Mr. Trump regarding his disdain for the press and for photographers in particular may have contributed to this incident and should be remedied immediately. We also call on the U.S. Secret Service to thoroughly investigate this incident and make sure its agents are better trained in handling the media while protecting the candidates.