There’s a significant difference between guarding someone and attacking someone else in the process, but you wouldn’t know it from an apparent incident in New Jersey, where a bodyguard for CNN pundit April Ryan allegedly attacked a local reporter by taking away his video camera and physically forcing him out of the building.
That bizarre attack took place on August 3, when Ryan was slated to give a speech in New Brunswick until her bodyguard, Joel Morris, intervened and struck Charlie Kratovil, an editor who has now filed criminal charges including harassment, assault and theft.
According to an article by NJ.com reporter Amanda Hoover:
A criminal complaint dated August 19 charges that Morris … took Kratovil’s arm and shoved it behind his back, injuring his forearm and shoulder.
The harassment and theft charges stem from Morris taking the camera, according to the complaint.
Hoover also quoted Kratovil as stating that a public relations firm had alerted him to Ryan’s appearance and invited him to attend. The editor of the New Brunswick Today newspaper and website said he received permission and arrived at the hotel, checked in and recorded other speakers for two hours without any problems.
In a video of the incident, Ryan appears before the crowd but quickly stops speaking after her bodyguard approached the podium and whispered to her.
He then turned his attention to Kratovil, who was astonished when the man unplugged his camera and carried it away while forcing the reporter out of the building.
Hoover then added: “The footage spins as the camera moves, sometimes going dark, at others catching glimpses of a lobby and the bodyguard."
While this was going on, Ryan stated: “What I will say, when I speak, I don’t have news covering my speeches,” she noted in an odd perspective for someone who makes a living out of talking on a cable TV channel.
“At that point, I had no choice” but to leave the room, Kratovil added. “That camera is worth more than my car. I was able to retrieve it but was not able to avoid being attacked by this guy."
Under the screen name @Charlie4Change, the editor later tweeted:
This was more than just an assault on me. This was an assault on freedom of the press, and April Ryan should have immediately condemned the use of violence against a journalist.
Because Ms. Ryan has failed to publicly address or apologize for her role in this ugly incident, I am now seeking legal counsel to initiate proceedings that will hold her accountable for the unacceptable and illegal behavior of her employee.
“The incident comes as journalists continue to decry censorship and violence on the job, as well as the degrading language politicians have used to subvert the media,” Hoover noted. “Ryan herself has proved a prominent figure in those very pushbacks,” the reporter stated, and "she has hired a bodyguard after receiving death threats.”
In an interesting twist, the CNN pundit produced a book last year entitled Under Fire: Reporting From the Front Lines of the Trump White House, which discusses the challenges journalists face as President Trump has "vilified the press." Her efforts led to her receiving the “Freedom of the Press” award at this annual event.
Nevertheless, Kratovil said he still doesn’t know why he was suddenly removed from the event because other local reporters remained, and many people in the audience had taken out their phones to take photos or videos.
“Her silence is deafening at this point. It’s been more than two weeks,” Kratovil said. “Anybody who’s a journalist should be condemning this.”