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Reporter Assaulted at Palin Rally

The McCain campaign’s vocal hostility toward the mainstream media may be creating a dangerous environment for reporters covering the Arizona senator’s campaign.

Earlier this month, the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank reported an audience member at a rally in Clearwater, Fla., featuring Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin hurled a racial epithet at a television crew’s African-American soundman.

At a Palin rally at Elon University in North Carolina yesterday, Joe Killian, a reporter for the Greensboro [N.C.] News-Record reported being physically assaulted by a McCain supporter. From Killian’s blog:

After the speech was over, I was walking around getting peoples’ reactions to it when I wandered into several clusters of sign-waving Obama supporters outside the stadium area. They were surrounded by McCain-Palin folks, and both sides were yelling at each other.

I sidled up to one of the Obama supporters and asked why they were there, what they were trying to accomplish.

As he was telling me, a large, bearded man in full McCain-Palin campaign regalia got in his face to yell at him.

“Hey, hey,” I said. “I’m trying to interview him. Just a minute, okay?”

The man began to say something about how of course I was interviewing the Obama people when suddenly, from behind us, the sound of a pro-Obama rap song came blaring out of the windows of a dorm building. We all turned our heads to see Obama signs in the windows.

This was met with curses, screams and chants of “U.S.A” by McCain-Palin folks, who crowded under the windows trying to drown it out and yell at the person playing the stereo.

It was a moment of levity in an otherwise very tense situation and so I let out a gentle chuckle and shook my head.

“Oh, you think that’s funny?!” the large bearded man said. His face was turning red. “Yeah, that’s real funny…” he said.

And then he kicked the back of my leg, buckling my right knee and sending me sprawling onto the ground.

Perhaps, much like Sen. John McCain had to remind supporters that Sen. Barack Obama is a “decent person,” the McCain campaign may want to inform event attendees that there is probably no surer way to draw negative press than by physically attacking reporters.

(Via Politico’s Ben Smith)

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