I received an e-mail from John Zielger on Saturday saying he would be responding to USC Annenberg Dean Ernie Wilson’s response to the April 15, 2009 incident where Ziegler was handcuffed and detained on the USC campus.
Thank you for your communication about the recent incident that took place at the Cronkite Awards ceremony involving an individual named John Ziegler. I want you to know the background of the situation.
In the days before his appearance on our campus, Mr. Ziegler publicly stated an intention to â€œdemonstrateâ€ (not true. I used the word â€protestâ€ and later sent out a private e-mail to my websiteâ€™s mailing list telling my â€œfollowersâ€ NOT to come or protest, my op-ed and press release on the matter said only that I would be giving out copies of my film) against the presentation of a journalism award to Katie Couric. USC was happy to accommodate Ziegler and provided him with a designated area where he could register his protest (not true. that was not offered until after I was handcuffed and was irrelevant because I was not â€œprotestingâ€ but rather asking questions), be seen by attendees at the event, as well as students, and pass out whatever materials he wished.
On the day of the award ceremony, Mr. Ziegler arrived on campus with two cameramen (not true. we arrived separately and they did not work for me), not as a demonstrator, but as a journalist (really?? thatâ€™s very interesting and certainly not how they treated me), and demanded (false, I asked and never even pursued entering, only asking for a rationale for why I was not allowed to) that he and his cameramen be allowed to enter the Davidson Center to cover the event. There was in fact, pool coverage set up because the room was not large enough to accommodate multiple camera crews. He was told he could have that feed, which he refused (not true, I would have been happy to have the feed and inquired as to how to get it). After being told repeatedly that the event was by invitation only, he contended he had a right to roam up and down the entryway with his cameramen (I didnâ€™t have the right to be on an â€œopenâ€ campus that takes federal money??!), and he persisted in refusing to comply with the Universityâ€™s request that he stay within a designated area (not true, that was after I was handcuffed) . After repeated requests for compliance, Mr. Ziegler was given the choice of either being arrested or leaving campus. He chose to leave campus (false, after being handcuffed. I was told I was under arrest and would be booked, then the LAPD and some higher ups arrived and I was told to leave or I would be booked and the camera people would be as well).
The University both respects and facilitates freedom of speech and expression on campus (just not for conservative filmmakers asking about bogus awards given to liberal media members), but also reserves the right to set reasonable ground-rules to avoid disruption to its operations and protect the rights of others (which was in no way endangered in this situation). We at the Annenberg School have a powerful and evident commitment to protecting and promoting freedom of expression and the rights of the press (really??). I respect your feelings about how this incident was handled (gee, I wonder why!).
Ernest J. Wilson III
Dean and Walter H. Annenberg Chair in Communication
Ziegler says he will be pursuing his legal rights in the matter and it is my bet, USC will cut its losses and apologize in some way.
As the university should…….
Technorati Tags: John Ziegler, University of Southern California, Marty Kaplan, Norman Lear, Annenberg School of Communication, Sarah Palin, Katie Couric