CNN's April Ryan Explains Bodyguard's Assault on Journalist to CNN

Earlier, the Washington Post's Erik Wemple had called out CNN and April Ryan for her bodyguard's assault on a journalist covering her speech. 

Given her support for the First Amendment and press access, Ryan would surely recoil at an episode that occurred Aug. 3 at the fourth annual New Jersey Parent Summit. Founder and editor of community news site New Brunswick Today Charlie Kratovil had his video equipment removed from the conference room by a bodyguard. Then the bodyguard allegedly removed Kratovil by force from the lobby of New Brunswick’s Heldrich Hotel.

The bodyguard, as it turned out, was working for Ryan, the summit’s keynote speaker. Joel Morris, 30, has been charged with assault, theft and harassment in connection with the incident.

According to Kratovil, he arranged to attend the event. He set up his camera and covered about an hour of proceedings without incident, until Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.) began introducing Ryan. At that point, Morris approached Kratovil, mentioned the video setup and asked, "Who are you with?” A bit later, he threatened to “take … down” the video camera.

A scramble of sorts followed the threat, Kratovil said. Public relations reps crowded around him, “pressuring me to stop recording.” Video of the event captures what happens next: Morris approaches Ryan as she’s beginning her remarks. He appears to say something, and she nods in approval. Then there’s an awkward pause of nearly 30 seconds, after which Ryan says, "When I speak, I do not have news covering my speeches.”

Just as Ryan was articulating this anti-media stance, Kratovil can be heard exclaiming, “Don’t touch my camera, please. Don’t touch my camera, please. Put that down. Don’t you dare. Put that down, sir. That’s my camera.” The commotion apparently marks the moment that Morris allegedly grabbed Kratovil’s equipment and made his way out of the meeting space, with Kratovil in pursuit. Once he recovered the equipment, Kratovil received some assistance from Morris in finding the exit. “[H]e began assaulting me without provocation in the lobby & continued his assault as he forced me out of the building,” Kratovil said on Twitter. “I screamed and used some profane language towards Mr. Morris as he grabbed my left arm and twisted it behind my back, injuring my forearm and shoulder.”

Wemple is the only remaining credible figure at The Post and his column about the assault challenged not only Ryan, but CNN, for claiming to support a free press, while remaining silent about the assault. And so Ryan and CNN went public, with a softball CNN whitewash... on CNN.

A CNN contributor known for criticizing President Trump's anti-media rhetoric has fired a bodyguard who was charged with taking a New Brunswick reporter's camera and assaulting the journalist during an event at a city hotel earlier this month.

April Ryan on Sunday broke a three-week silence by appearing on CNN's "Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter," explaining that she waited until now because she had been worried about a potential lawsuit.

Without apologizing for the incident, Ryan said that she did not order her now-former bodyguard to "do anything" and that she was unaware that her hired muscle had dragged out and injured New Brunswick Today publisher Charlie Kratovil because the physical altercation happened in the lobby of The Heldrich hotel and conference center, while she was on stage inside the hall. The confrontation was captured on video.

Ryan, who explained that she needs a bodyguard because of threats against her life, said "I assume he overreacted because he was concerned with my safety."

When New Jersey 101.5 reached out to Ryan two weeks ago to get her side of the story, she blocked the reporter.

Kratovil, who combines progressive political activism with journalism, was not threatening Ryan and has said that he was a fan of hers.

On CNN on Sunday, Ryan explained that her speaking engagement contracts require that people need to ask permission before recording her speeches because she doesn't want her words being taken out of context.

"Sometimes your words are twisted [by people] who have an agenda," Ryan said. "That kind of thing can charge the atmosphere to create hate against me and death threats."

That's the opposite of journalism. Access to the press means that you don't block the press from reporting on your speeches. 

Ryan failed to apologize for the incident. Including to the gentleman who was hurt. She waited until now to fire a bodyguard who had already been indicted.

And CNN gave her a free pass.

“I did not order anyone to do anything,” Ryan said. “I didn’t know what was going on or said. I was on stage at the time.”

Ryan continued to say that the incident was “not about suppressing the press,” and she disputed Kartovil’s insistence that he had documented permission to cover the event. 

The video suggests otherwise.

Wemple blasted Ryan after the CNN whitewash.

Excuse: “At that moment what you saw was my then-bodyguard who was concerned with my safety come to me and say stop talking. They were about 100 feet away from me. I didn’t know what was going on or what was said. I was on the stage at the time."

Why it’s a crock: Here, Ryan is referring to the moment on the videotape when Morris appears to say something to her. She nods, and he then makes his way toward Kratovil’s video equipment. After the exchange, Ryan does stop talking from the lectern. After about 30 seconds of silence, she explains to the crowd, "When I speak, I do not have news covering my speeches.” Furthermore, Kratovil told the Erik Wemple Blog that Morris first approached him earlier in the event; Kratovil gave him his business card, at which point Morris returned to Ryan’s table.

Taken together, these events — Morris’s approach of Kratovil; Ryan’s quick interaction with the bodyguard; her silence; the anti-news statement — suggest that Ryan had a darn good idea of “what was going on.”

But CNN still refuses to hold Ryan accountable.

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