Pro-union Demonstrators Assault FNC's Mike Tobin, Attempt to Shout Down Field Reports

February 28th, 2011 6:24 PM

The campaign by pro-union demonstrators in Madison, Wisconsin to silence Fox News and prevent it from reporting continued over the weekend. Protesters did their best to prevent FNC's Mike Tobin from reporting on the protests, all the while shouting - apparently oblivious to the irony - "Fox News lies!"

A few protesters even struck Tobin, though he later downplayed the assault, and said he had declined to press charges. Another protester threatened to break Tobin's neck, he said during one report.

"I find the whole thing a terrific distraction, and terribly frustrating, because I want to cover the story," Tobin told Fox News Radio host Scott Allen Miller on Monday. Tobin brushed off the physical abuse he says he has endured from a few protesters, and insisted that the real frustration was being "harassed with every live shot" (video below the break via J$P).

While reporting from Madison over the weekend, Tobin told Geraldo Rivera Gregg Jarrett that someone had "just hit me!" (Video of that segment below.) Tobin also tweeted on Sunday: "Demonstrator just hit me twice."

During the Monday interview with Miller, Tobin seemed to refer to his being struck twice by one of the protesters, saying "it amounted to a charlie horse." He stressed that his inability to effectively report from Madison troubled him more than the physical harassment from protesters there.

The perception that Fox is institutionally opposed to union demonstrators is the source of the harassment, Tobin explained. "The whole organization lies" is the sentiment Tobin says he heard from demonstrators - "if you can get that much of a coherent sentence," he added.

Tobin noted that he has seen a number of protesters with professionally-printed anti-Fox slogans on them, but that demonstrators' hatred of the channel seemed to be more of a "collective mentality."

I elaborated on that mentality last week in the context of other efforts to shut down Fox's reporting. Miller expressed a similar sentiment in his interview with Tobin. Protesters, he said, are "not trying to shut down your quote-unquote message, they're trying to stop you from reporting period. They don't care what you're saying."

That fact is made plain by the complete lack of interest in what Tobin was actually saying during the segments protesters attempted to shut down. Indeed, as he noted in his Miller interview, none of the protesters shouting Tobin down even knew who he was, let alone anything about his political leanings.

Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik has been one of the few non-Fox media personalities who has unequivocally condemned efforts by pro-union demonstrators to shut down Fox's field reporting operation. He called the efforts "ugly, bully-boy, thug tactics," and said that the anti-Fox demonstrators "should be ashamed."

But Zurawik's comments notwithstanding, the media has been, on the whole, deafeningly silent on these efforts to stifle reporting from Madison.

Exit question: what would the media reaction be if a protester struck, say, an MSNBC reporter at a Tea Party rally?