VA mugs reporter, censors the news

posted at 2:15 pm on April 10, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

To channel Glenn Reynolds, they told me that the government would assault journalists and censor the news if I voted Republican — and they were right!  A Washington DC reporter for a local public-radio station got accosted by guards after trying to conduct an interview at a VA hospital, on orders of its press flack.  David Schultz had to hand over the memory card from his camera in order to escape (via Jake Tapper’s Twitter feed):

A young man was robbed on Tuesday night inside a hospital while federal security guards watched. The victim was surrounded by seven men and women, and most of them had guns. The thieves refused to let the young man leave a public meeting he was attending and forced him to hand over valuable and irreplaceable property. Three days after the incident, no charges have been filed, nobody has been arrested and the property is still in the hands of the perpetrators. This occurred despite the fact that the victim and federal authorities know exactly who committed this heinous crime.

This is a true story. It happened to David Schultz, a 26-year-old graduate of the University of Arizona.

What makes this story truly unbelievable – and very scary – is the fact that the mastermind of this attack is a federal employee, Gloria Hairston, an internal communications specialist with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. She was aided by at least two other employees of the V.A. and four armed security guards.

Was Schultz assaulting patients?  Not exactly.  Schultz interviewed a VA patient who has openly accused the VA of racism and incompetence:

Tommie Canady is admitted to the hospital several times a year for treatment of a terminal pancreatic disease and he claims the care he receives is atrocious. On two occasions, he sayss the same nurse administered an overdose of morphine to him and is still working at the VA.

He says he’s alive because he’s developed a high tolerance to pain medication. He also says he’s been denied disability benefits because he is black.

Canady tried to tell his story to me during a town meeting, but hospital officials interrupted the interview and confiscated WAMU’s equipment until the recording was surrendered to them. They claimed Canady was required but failed to sign a VA release form. No one at the hospital would comment for this story and the Department of Veterans Affairs central office did not respond to requests for an interview.

What authority did the VA have to confiscate Schultz’ equipment?  He certainly didn’t turn it over voluntarily:

While interviewing one of the veterans about the poor treatment he was receiving at the hands of the V.A., Ms. Hairston demanded that Schultz stop recording the interview and hand over his recording equipment.

“She said I wouldn’t be allowed to leave,” Schultz tells WTOP.

At first he refused. But after being surrounded by armed police officers who stood between him and the exit, he looked for a compromise. … “You have to give me all of your equipment or I’m going to get ugly. She used the phrase ‘get ugly,’” Schultz says[.]

Schultz blames his inexperience for his decision to surrender the card, but the real crime here is that the VA stole Schultz’ equipment with no jurisdiction or court order to do so, in a deliberate attempt to censor the news.  Maybe Schultz can start a new show on WAMU called, “When Bureaucrats Attack!”


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They don’t what anyone to know what government run healthcare really looks like

BuckNutty on April 10, 2009 at 2:21 PM

This is disturbing. I don’t care if the administrator is a Dem or Republican, or if the kid who was accosted was a sniveling liberal public radio reporter or as righty blogger, this needs to result in terminations and possibly civil and criminal repercussions.

Dead Hand Control on April 10, 2009 at 2:25 PM

What authority did the VA have to confiscate Schultz’ equipment?

Anyone have an answer to this question?

Robert_Paulson on April 10, 2009 at 2:25 PM

I would like to say I am shocked and appalled to read this, but after Mister Liberty Girl’s experience with the VA after he was discharged from the Navy, I cannot. We owe our Veterans better than this slitch, better than what MLG received.

Liberty Girl on April 10, 2009 at 2:26 PM

You can multiply this story many times when “universal health care” comes about.

d1carter on April 10, 2009 at 2:27 PM

What authority did the VA have to confiscate Schultz’ equipment?

Anyone can get personal information on a camera. Think about laptops that come up missing! Think about social security numbers!

hmmmm

upinak on April 10, 2009 at 2:27 PM

White House Statement:

This is not the V.A. we thought we knew.

Robert_Paulson on April 10, 2009 at 2:28 PM

They don’t what anyone to know what government run healthcare really looks like

BuckNutty on April 10, 2009 at 2:21 PM

Ahh, this is just if your a soldier. If you are a lazy, ignorant, good for nothing welfare case you are their constituency.

Recent Vets are such a small voting bloc that they routinely get pissed on. People forget Gulf War syndrome and now they’re treating them very similar now, which is very disgusting because many of these guys did way more tours than they should have, nothing even remotely close to the first Gulf War. Gee if people were just as insistent to call their congressman about the treatment of Vets as they were during amnesty maybe we’d be halfway there on this issue.

LevStrauss on April 10, 2009 at 2:28 PM

What country do I live in again?

Knucklehead on April 10, 2009 at 2:28 PM

“This was a practice carried over from the Bush administration.”

Get ready. You know its coming.

portlandon on April 10, 2009 at 2:28 PM

From the public radio station’s story:

Canady tried to tell his story to me during a town meeting, but hospital officials interrupted the interview and confiscated WAMU’s equipment until the recording was surrendered to them. They claimed Canady was required but failed to sign a VA release form. No one at the hospital would comment for this story and the Department of Veterans Affairs central office did not respond to requests for an interview.

Dead Hand Control on April 10, 2009 at 2:29 PM

“This was a practice carried over from the Bush administration.”

Get ready. You know its coming.

portlandon on April 10, 2009 at 2:28 PM

This is a practice carried over from LBJ’s administration. It has never ended.

LevStrauss on April 10, 2009 at 2:31 PM

Must be Bushes fault.

ctmom on April 10, 2009 at 2:31 PM

What country do I live in again?

Knucklehead on April 10, 2009 at 2:28 PM

United Socialist States of America.

rbj on April 10, 2009 at 2:34 PM

Of course you could say this goes back to Daniel Shays. We ruffle our feathers for an hour or two and then forget about it every time.

LevStrauss on April 10, 2009 at 2:34 PM

Hmmm. It’s easy to see his side. I do think we need a little more information, though.

He was “inside the hospital,” and generally hospitals are very cautious about PR, patient privacy etc. Reporters can’t just go into one and interview whoever they want. Hospitals have PR staff to guide the process, and have some legal authority about what happens on their (Our in the case of the VA?) property.

I have little doubt from this story this VA PR employee and the gaurds crossed a line, but the context of “inside the hospital” needs consideration as well.

cs89 on April 10, 2009 at 2:35 PM

Disturbing… What were the grounds for confiscating the equipment? Why were the cops so eager to assist?

Something about this story doesn’t add up…

Skywise on April 10, 2009 at 2:36 PM

Hairston won’t suffer anything more than a slap on the wrist. Bureaucrats and petty tyrants protect each other.

OhioCoastie on April 10, 2009 at 2:37 PM

Schultz blames his inexperience for his decision to surrender the card

An experienced reporter would carry a spare card where he could easily swap it with the real one before turning it over.

agmartin on April 10, 2009 at 2:38 PM

This kid needs to get the number to the ACLU…and CALL THEM.

quikstrike98 on April 10, 2009 at 2:39 PM

Disgraceful. How many of these guys in the VA are combat veterans, and to be treated like this? Where is the ACLU? Where is the MSM? Where is the outrage from the Hope ‘N Change Party? Or, is this just another, “Inconvenient Truth?”

DL13 on April 10, 2009 at 2:41 PM

Anyone have an answer to this question?

Robert_Paulson on April 10, 2009 at 2:25 PM

As a police officer I can tell you simply…NONE.

ChicagoBlues on April 10, 2009 at 2:45 PM

Disturbing… What were the grounds for confiscating the equipment? Why were the cops so eager to assist?

Something about this story doesn’t add up…

Skywise on April 10, 2009 at 2:36 PM

Any police officer has the authority to disregard or at least challenge an obviously unlawful order from a supervisor.

ChicagoBlues on April 10, 2009 at 2:47 PM

OT: Another day, another shooting

This time it’s in Deabornistan.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on April 10, 2009 at 2:48 PM

This is so cool.
I honestly can not wait until Federal Bureaucrats are handed control of everything in our lives.

Really, It’s gonna be AWESOME.

ChrisM on April 10, 2009 at 2:48 PM

They don’t what anyone to know what government run healthcare really looks like

BuckNutty on April 10, 2009 at 2:21 PM

I’d say the image shown in this story is about right.

“No Mr. Anderson, you want to take the blue pill”

Chaz706 on April 10, 2009 at 2:50 PM

Skywise, I agree. I went back and reread this story. Something is afoul in the land. Anyone got any other links to this story?

ChicagoBlues on April 10, 2009 at 2:50 PM

The brightest bulbs aren’t working for the VA.

AnninCA on April 10, 2009 at 2:52 PM

Don’t worry…the adults are in charge!

ladyingray on April 10, 2009 at 2:52 PM

This headline is waay inflammatory. It’s making me wonder if pandering to the last batch of registrants, a good many who are off the chart kooks, is becoming sport around here.

I’ll bet I’m not the only old timer who misses HotAir TV…Bryan and MM singing and stuff.
sigh.

Tru2my2 on April 10, 2009 at 2:53 PM

I hope Barry has something to say about this, what with all his “earnest admiration” he professed for veterans the other day.

anniekc on April 10, 2009 at 2:54 PM

Now why do I get the sneaky suspicion that if Glenn Beck had warned us of government tyranny such as this, it would be the brilliant conservatives who would have laughed at and ridiculed him comparing him to Olby.

GT on April 10, 2009 at 2:55 PM

What country do I live in again?

Knucklehead on April 10, 2009 at 2:28 PM

United States of Obamerica.

therightscoop on April 10, 2009 at 2:59 PM

so much for do process and court oders and such. The government is the first group to throw out the Bill of Rights as they are “hurdles” to law enforcement and we simply need more “common sense” controls of our freedoms.

Not loving it. Oh and go Wildcats!

matthew26 on April 10, 2009 at 3:01 PM

Ever seen the movie Article 99?

Tom

marinetbryant on April 10, 2009 at 3:02 PM

or if the kid who was accosted was a sniveling liberal public radio reporter or as righty blogger

Hmmmmm….gee, I wonder which one…

Schultz interviewed a VA patient who has openly accused the VA of racism and incompetence

He also says he’s been denied disability benefits because he is black.

Gee, it’s so hard to figure out if the reporter was a leftist or a righty…..so hard to figure out…

DethMetalCookieMonst on April 10, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Liberty Girl on April 10, 2009 at 2:26 PM

I just clicked over to your blog page, LOVE IT! Keep telling it like it is Liberty Girl…PC BE DAMNED!!

Liberty or Death on April 10, 2009 at 3:04 PM

SHOKCAH!

meh. Not really.

SilverStar830 on April 10, 2009 at 3:22 PM

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on April 10, 2009 at 2:48 PM

Sorry for replying to an OT item but I looked up Columbine and Va. Tech shootings and they took place in April along with some other famous incidents. What is it about this time of year?

Cindy Munford on April 10, 2009 at 3:23 PM

What an odd story! This is the kind of story the MSM loves, there should be no problem with getting it out and many groups interested in the investigation. I will hold off casting aspersions on any one until I get more information.

Cindy Munford on April 10, 2009 at 3:31 PM

Any police officer has the authority to disregard or at least challenge an obviously unlawful order from a supervisor.

ChicagoBlues on April 10, 2009 at 2:47 PM

They don’t just have the authority, they have the obligation to ignore unlawfull orders.

MarkTheGreat on April 10, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Just following orders hasn’t washed since Nuremburg.

MarkTheGreat on April 10, 2009 at 3:49 PM

He should have bowed……..

Seven Percent Solution on April 10, 2009 at 3:54 PM

Swear out a warrant for her arrest, and all the security guards.

N. O'Brain on April 10, 2009 at 3:55 PM

And VA health care is touted as being the precursor to National Health Care?

Armed thugs at every exit, to make sure you take your meds? Gangland tactics on patients who dare to ask when they might possibly be seen by a doctor?

Young Mr. David Schultz needs to lawyer up…now!

coldwarrior on April 10, 2009 at 3:58 PM

This is an indefensible act, but they may choose to hide behind a technicality. VA hospitals are military installations.

Did you guys all miss the reports on the conditions in some of the VA hospitals? They don’t get inspected publicly.

dogsoldier on April 10, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Government medicine will be like this.

seven on April 10, 2009 at 4:21 PM

Transparency is thy name…total control is my game.

right2bright on April 10, 2009 at 4:24 PM

dogsoldier on April 10, 2009 at 4:05 PM

VA hospitals a military installation?

Not part of DoD…they are civilian-run activities that cater to veterans (and badly).

coldwarrior on April 10, 2009 at 4:25 PM

Ah, kids? Kids?

The VA dispenses HEALTHCARE AND IS A GOVERNMENT INSTITUTION.

Harry Schell on April 10, 2009 at 4:25 PM

ANY BODY HAVE ANY REASON TO SUSPECT ACCUSATIONS OF INCOMPETENCE WILL FAIR ANY BETTER AT ANY OTHER GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL?

REMEMBER WALTER REED HOSPITAL?

Harry Schell on April 10, 2009 at 4:27 PM

Where is the liberal outrage over these unconstitutional activities performed by DaBamaBot brown shirted thugs? When will the investigations begin?

How can they blame this on Booosh?

DannoJyd on April 10, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Quick, someone call President Pantywaist.

pearson on April 10, 2009 at 4:31 PM

Harry Schell on April 10, 2009 at 4:27 PM

The story behind the story of Walter Reed Medical Center that wasn’t told, or at least not given ample press play, was that WRAMC was BRAAC’d in the 1990′s, with a closeout date set. Once that became law (Congress passed the recommendations of BRAAC) then logistics and admin support funding for WRAMC dried up. The logic was why expend funds on an activity that was slated to close in the early 2000′s? Thus, few funds, if any, were allocated to anything that was not life-or-death and part of the major hospital complex. (A rather large multi-story building right inside the front gate. Can’t miss it.)

The appalling state of quarters, remember the photos, were all taken at out buildings, former barracks and NCO/Officers temp quarters that are arranged around the old central post, most of these buildings dating to the late 1800′s and early 1900′s.

Congress told DoD and the Army to stop spending money on WRAMC. By law. Yet, the same Congressional buffoons who cut funding for WRAMC were at the front of the angry crowd talking about how “Booosh” caused the problem.

coldwarrior on April 10, 2009 at 4:35 PM

Not all VA hospitals are bad. I have extensive experience with the one in Mpls-StPaul and I cannot say enough good things about it. The doctors, nurses and clerical employees are kind, professional and efficient. There are those would rather not have to work, but they are few and far between. They usually don’t last long.

This VA is a major center for the five state upper midwest so maybe that has something to do with it. It is clean and well equipped and the medical personnel act as though they really care about the Vets.

Proudvet on April 10, 2009 at 4:36 PM

Any investigative video report worth his salt carries an extra old memcard hidden somewhere.

Some slight of hand, and you give the goon the empty mem card.

kurtzz3 on April 10, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Years ago, my sister was punched by a patient in the VA Hospital in Chicago while drawing his blood (she was an interning med tech at the time) As per law she had two orderlies accompanying her but they refused to help her and just stood there and laughed. She still believes it was due to the color of her skin (white) and the color of the skin of the patient and orderlies (black)

Her black eye healied but the incident shook her up for a long time

Ditkaca on April 10, 2009 at 4:57 PM

But its ok because its Obama in charge and not Bush.

AbaddonsReign on April 10, 2009 at 6:02 PM

What authority did the VA have to confiscate Schultz’ equipment?

Anyone have an answer to this question?

Robert_Paulson on April 10, 2009 at 2:25 PM

“I won.” – Pres. Obama

malclave on April 10, 2009 at 6:07 PM

VA healthcare has always been atrocious and still is. I am not suprised they did something to stifle a story about the poor healthcare. Even if it results in bad press like this, they still prevented the real story on the healthcare, and that is a win for the VA.

paulsur on April 10, 2009 at 6:13 PM

“You have to give me all of your equipment or I’m going to get ugly.”

I’m dying here; anyone have a picture of this creature? I’m hoping the future tense “going to” is incorrect.

Midas on April 10, 2009 at 6:17 PM

have little doubt from this story this VA PR employee and the gaurds crossed a line, but the context of “inside the hospital” needs consideration as well.

Exactly from this very biased story.

They claimed Canady was required but failed to sign a VA release form.

See there is the truth. Institutions have a right to set rules for their institution. Try going on to a military base and do this and you will most likely go to prison.

This fool figured he could go do a news story with no credentials and record it as well without going through required channels. He was plain wrong and I hope they charge him. Institutions of all kinds get sued for the type of behavior they stopped. If it was in Maryland it is most likely he committed illegal wiretapping. A Pokemoke man was charged with this yesterday for recording a mayor at the town square.

Follow the rules or face the consequences.

There are legal ways to to stories like this he just figured the rules didn’t apply to him. They do. The rules are clearly posted at all VA Hospitals he broke them pure and simple.

Steveangell on April 10, 2009 at 6:33 PM

I have to respond to this. I’ve received all my care at three different VA hospitals over the last 10 years. The quality of care has been outstanding. In recent years VA medicine has been ranked among the best in the country.
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2005/0501.longman.html summarizes studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Annals of Internal Medicine which confirm this. What happened in this case is indefensible; but is that a reason to vilify thousands of people trying their best to serve our veterans?

rroubaix on April 10, 2009 at 6:48 PM

Seems that not all the VA is visitor friendly…not only towards journalists, but also towards visitors, volunteers, even those from VA-approved organizations.

Took the ACLU to go after VA to allow for family members to visit certain family-member patients at the Hampton Roads VA hospital.

I thought Shinseki was going to usher in an era of transparency at VA. Guess VA’s idea of transparency isn’t what my idea of transparency is.

coldwarrior on April 10, 2009 at 6:49 PM

If all happened as Shultz said, I’m incensed too. But… I can’t find any substantiation to the allegations, just “Shultz said…” Not that I would ever question a MSM reporter, you understand… anybody have more meat for this story?

fabrexe on April 10, 2009 at 7:02 PM

I can’t find any substantiation to the allegations, just “Shultz said

Do we need more that his admission that he did not fill out the required paperwork. Try this at a Rock Concert. Tape it and see what happens. Your MSM credentials will do little for you if you don’t have your paperwork done.

Privacy rules were hard fought for. They protect us when we can’t protect ourselves. VA patients are vulnerable thus the requirement for permission to record. It would be unworkable to just say well let Shultz break the rules we trust him. That would really scare me.

Steveangell on April 10, 2009 at 7:42 PM

Took the ACLU to go after VA to allow for family members to visit certain family-member patients

Great link and one case the ACLU got right. Shultz should have done it right. Creeps like him destroy all of our rights. Rules protect us and when the rules are wrong we can get them changed if we go about it the right way. Shultz did not. He should be glad he was not arrested.

Steveangell on April 10, 2009 at 7:47 PM

I want to hear the story from another witness. Im not saying did or didnt. Just more than one side. Its not that i dont trust reporters, well yea it is.

Greed on April 10, 2009 at 8:36 PM

I’ll bet I’m not the only old timer who misses HotAir TV…Bryan and MM singing and stuff.
sigh.

Tru2my2 on April 10, 2009 at 2:53 PM

I just miss the MM-on-a-trampoline videos. ;)

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on April 10, 2009 at 9:21 PM

Any police officer has the authority DUTYto disregard or at least challenge an obviously unlawful order from a supervisor.

ChicagoBlues on April 10, 2009 at 2:47 PM

Fixed it for you; but I know what you are refering to. A police officer has a sworn duty to enforce the law when a crime is committed in his presence. That does not change because the crime is committed by the boss.

MikeA on April 10, 2009 at 10:52 PM

Why would this be a surprise to anyone. The VA care has been a joke for 40 years and only gets worse each year with the government running more and more with less and less supervision by people who actually know what they are doing. If you are a doctor or nurse at the VA, then you can’t get a job anywhere else!

flytier on April 11, 2009 at 11:36 AM

Good. I wish they had pistol whipped him, too. You do not photograph or film at hospitals because patients have privacy rights. If he wanted to interview this person and take photos, he should have done it off site. Additionally, the claims of racism are also crap. You are going to have instances of malpractice at every hospital because believe it or not doctors and nurses are human and make mistakes. Jeesh!

If you are a doctor or nurse at the VA, then you can’t get a job anywhere else!

Bull! A lot of people like working at the VA because you get all the federal holidays and a months vacation and you can transfer to different hospitals around the country without losing pay, retirement, and other assorted benefits.

Blake on April 11, 2009 at 8:13 PM

“When Policemen break the Law, then there is no Law, only a fight for survival.”

-Billy Jack-

GunRunner on April 11, 2009 at 10:56 PM

He was “inside the hospital,” and generally hospitals are very cautious about PR, patient privacy etc. Reporters can’t just go into one and interview whoever they want. Hospitals have PR staff to guide the process, and have some legal authority about what happens on their (Our in the case of the VA?) property.

I have little doubt from this story this VA PR employee and the gaurds crossed a line, but the context of “inside the hospital” needs consideration as well.

Naw! We don’t need no stinkin’ “further consideration.”

The reporter was a visitor of the patient. As long as the reporter came in the hospital to see the patient through normal channels, i.e., through the front door: “Hi! I’m here to see ‘John Doe’,” or whoever, and he was admitted, that’s the end of any necessary consideration.

The First Amendment covers the rest.

Certainly a hospital can control their own PR, and who has access to hospital employees, and who speaks on behalf of the hospital…but not the patients. Of course, the hospital can control whether people physically admitted to the premises, but once there…the hospital has no legal control over conversations which take place between visitors and willing patients…and whether a willing patients conversation with a visitor is recorded.

They didn’t “cross a line”… the hospital officials committed several crimes: (1) Armed robbery. (2) False Imprisonment. (3) And if they caused the reporter to be moved from anywhere in the hospital to anywhere else in the hospital: Kidnapping. (4) Criminal civil rights violations. All of these can be prosecuted federally, because they occurred on federal property.

Anyone think Bambi will allow it?

seanrobins on April 11, 2009 at 11:45 PM

Good. I wish they had pistol whipped him, too. You do not photograph or film at hospitals because patients have privacy rights. If he wanted to interview this person and take photos, he should have done it off site.

My, gosh… what are you, some kind of moron? Nobody has said that the patient being interviewed was unwilling, or that his privacy was being “invaded.” You made that up out of your own composted imagination.

Geez, what an extremist you are.

seanrobins on April 11, 2009 at 11:55 PM