Ellen Knickmeyer, a reporter for the Associated Press, was grabbed and removed from an EPA building by a security guard on Monday morning after the agency said that reporters from certain outlets were barred from attending an agency meeting.
The EPA blocked reporters from the AP, CNN, and trade publication E&E News from attending the event, which concerned water contamination.
From the AP’s report:
Guards barred an AP reporter from passing through a security checkpoint inside the building.
When the reporter asked to speak to an EPA public-affairs person, the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building.
An EPA spokesman played down the muffling-of-the-free-press angle, telling NBC News that, “This was simply an issue of the room reaching capacity, which reporters were aware of prior to the event.”
In the afternoon, after multiple outlets picked up on the AP’s report, the EPA reversed course and allowed Knickmeyer and the E&E News reporter into the meeting.
Earlier this month, Politico reported that the White House and EPA had blocked publication of a federal-health study on water contamination that the agency feared would be a “public-relations nightmare.”
Punishing news outlets for publishing unflattering information seems in character for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, who is currently facing 12 different investigations into various forms of unethical behavior. Pruitt, after all, prefers not to be asked any unexpected questions, and runs an agency that has taken a sneering, Trumpian tone toward the media. But it remains unclear why the AP, CNN, and E&E were singled out.