Stars can be a bitch to cover. And dealing with their handlers can be no picnic, either.
Last night Washington Examiner’s Yeas & Nays columnist Tara Palmeri was covering a Sean Penn Haiti event and was tossed for asking him a question about his “rectal cancer” comment. Her question was similiar to that of HBO’s Bill Maher, who asked Penn about his remark last week (at the time the star managed to laugh it off). “We know he hates journos but I was literally, threatened to have police escort me out, the rabbi at the event tried to delete my video on my flip cam and I was publicly humiliated and berated in front of all these people even though I asked the question straight and professionally,” Palmeri told FishbowlDC.
Palmeri said reporters were allowed just one question. Hers was:”How have you seen your critics change since you mentioned that they should die of rectal cancer?”
She explained, “I asked him a question that was relevant to the Haiti issue,” she said, explaining that she was asking Penn to remark on comments his critics had made. “His publicist went nuts from the first question I asked,” she said. “Penn actually handled it pretty well.”
Penn: “I think you’re investing in a culture that I’m not interested in.”
Penn’s publicist to Palmeri: “Excuse me ma’am, this is the end of your interview.”
Palmeri said her editors were supportive.”They were completely behind me,” she said.
The scribe said she’s okay after the ordeal and in good spirits today. But, she admitted, she was “humiliated and a little bit scared” at the time. “I didn’t think it was going to be as big of a deal,” she said, adding that after her story broke she received a call from New York Post’s Page 6 this morning and got a hit on Drudge.
Read Palmeri’s story and watch the video of her interview with Penn here. Hats off to Palmeri – it takes one gutsy reporter to utter the phrase “rectal cancer” to a star.