Last week, veteran KGO reporter Wayne Freedman saw firsthand the dangers of reporting when differences of opinion mix with volatile emotions.
Freedman was interviewing a woman wearing a red Trump-style hat during protests over an appearance of Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos on the UC Berkeley campus when someone attacked the two before the interview was over.
Kiara Robles braved the crowd wearing a red “Make Bitcoin Great Again” hat in the style of President Trump’s red hats, which made her and our crew a target. The video in the player above shows the graphic exchange between a protester and Robles, who was pepper sprayed. “I’m looking to make a statement by just being here and I think the protesters are doing the same. Props to the ones who are doing it non-violently, but I think that’s a very rare thing indeed.”
Robles told Freedman she was alright.
“In these passionate times, journalists need to be extra careful,” Freedman told TVSpy. “When we’re interviewing somebody we can be blindsided. We had a security man with us. He’d done an excellent job keeping us out of trouble. That night, he said, was the most dangerous environment in which he had ever seen us work. Not even our security man could stop the assailant from spraying her, and kicking me. It happened that fast. The lesson…that even when you think an event is over, it’s not.”
Freedman also says the danger is compounded by hostile crowds.
“Because I am a journalist, you will never know my personal opinions about politics and religion,” Freedman wrote later on his Facebook page. “In our business, BIAS is a four-letter word. Here is one principle, however, that you should know about me. I am dedicated to the concept that journalists have the right, even the license, to ask questions. Challenging ones. Of everyone. Equally.
“And, I believe that all Americans, no matter who they vote for, worship, or what they believe, have the constitutional right to express their opinions without fear of reprisals, whether physical, emotional, or otherwise,” wrote Freedman. “Please, in this divisive time, let us remember how to respect each other for our differences as much as our similarities.”
— janey (@janeygak) February 2, 2017