Only CBS This Morning on Thursday covered the ongoing saga of a liberal University of Missouri professor who called for “muscle” in an attempt to suppress free speech. ABC and NBC have not been interested in the case of Melissa Click and her caught-on-camera rant against a student journalist who filmed her in a public space.
CBS’s Anna Werner interviewed the professor, who has been suspended and is facing additional discipline. She wondered, “Were you appalled by your behavior when you watched the video?” In the footage from last fall, Click screams at a young journalist who walks up to her at a protest, “Hey, who wants me to help get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here! Help me get him out!”
In this exchange, Werner presses Click as she tries to justify and minimize her actions:
ANNA WERNER: Click says she was trying to protect the students protesting who she says were under threat and wasn't sure the man filming was a real journalist.
MELISSA CLICK: He introduced himself only as media and came at me with a camera.
WERNER: That's a camera, not a weapon.
Werner demands to know “is calling for ‘muscle out here’ respectful?” At one point, she explains to the professor, who was also caught on camera yelling profanities at a cop, “You can understand where a lot of people watching those videos are saying, ‘She's got a problem.’"
One would think that the attempted suppression of free speech and assault on a journalist would be interesting for the three networks. But on November 10, 2015, during the racial protests at the University of Missouri, only CBS covered the story. Only CBS This Morning highlighted it again on Thursday.
The full CBS This Morning transcript is below:
CHARLIE ROSE: University of Missouri says this morning an investigation into the assistant professor who sparked a national backlash is nearly done.
MELISSA CLICK: I need some muscle over here! Help me get him out!
ROSE: Melissa Click was caught on video during campus protests in November calling for muscle to remove a student journalist. Video a month earlier shows her cursing at police. Click, this morning, says she regrets her actions and Anna Werner is on the campus in Columbia, Missouri, with the interview you'll see only on CBS This Morning. Anna, good morning.
ANNA WERNER: Good morning, Charlie. Well, this is the spot on the campus quad where protesters set up their tent city in November. It's also the spot where Melissa Click took an action she now says she regrets.
STUDENT: I’m media. Can I talk to you?
CLICK: No. You need to get out!
WERNER: She is the woman seen at a University of Missouri protest last fall ordering a student journalist away from a group of protesters on the public quad.
CLICK: You need to get out! You need to get out.
WERNER: Her actions brought her a misdemeanor assault charge and widespread condemnation. Now she is apologizing.
CLICK: You need to go!
WERNER: Were you appalled by your behavior when you watched the video?
CLICK: I was embarrassed by my behavior. I believe it doesn't represent who I am at as a person. It doesn't represent the good I was doing there that day and certainly I wish I could do it over again.
WERNER: Click says she was trying to protect the students protesting who she says were under threat and wasn't sure the man filming was a real journalist.
CLICK: He introduced himself only as media and came at me with a camera.
WERNER: That’s a camera, not a weapon.
CLICK: Sure. But it also wasn't a big camera. It could have been a phone-sized camera. It wasn’t — again, didn't say professional journalist to me.
WERNER: We asked if she would review the tape of that incident with us. She declined.
CLICK: I don't really wish to do that.
WERNER: But on the tape she is clearly heard as identifying the student journalist as a reporter before calling for muscle to remain him.
CLICK: Hey, who wants me to help get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here! Help me get him out!
WERNER: Is calling for muscle out here respectful?
CLICK: It was a mistake. I never, ever meant that as a call for violence. It's just one of those things that was said in a heated moment.
WERNER: But another video released last week by the Columbia, Missouri, newspaper shows click at an earlier protest during homecoming in October, cursing at a police officer who she says pushed her.
CLICK: Hands off me!
WERNER: You can understand where a lot of people watching those videos are saying, “She's got a problem.”
CLICK: People who know me don't feel that way. People who were there that day don't feel that way. They know what it was like to be there. They know I was there with the best of intentions and they know it was a really tricky situation.
WERNER: The university's governing board is now investigating. David Steelman is a board member. What is it about the videos to you that is most damaging?
DAVID STEELMAN: The call for muscle. No question about it. Imagine yourself as a parent and that is your child that a faculty member calls for muscle on. You don't pour gasoline on an already volatile situation.
WERNER: In December, more than 100 Mizzou faculty members signed a letter of support calling Click “an ally to students” and someone with an “outstanding record of teaching and research.” But Click now worries she won't get a fair hearing.
CLICK: I believe that the actions of the curators and the chancellors set up an environment where I can't be fairly evaluated.
WERNER: So, if that is the case, what happens after that?
CLICK: Well, I fight for my job. I love my job. I'm good at my be job. I made mistakes. I don't think I should be judged entirely on those mistakes, and I'm going to fight for what I think is fair.
WERNER: Now in a statement this week, the interim chancellor called her actions with that police officer “appalling.” She is currently suspended with pay, but Steelman insists she will get a fair hearing in front of the board and that her 12 years teaching her will be considered. Gayle?
GAYLE KING: All right. We’ll certainly follow up. Thank you, Anna.