John on June 4, 2007 at 1:26 am
Eric Alterman has to be one of my least favorite media commentators. He became a liberal darling when he wrote a book arguing that the media is biased…wait for it…in favor of conservatives. To say Alterman is a shill would be understating things.
So I’m not surprised to learn that Alterman was arrested backstage at the Democratic debate after crashing a party to which he wasn’t invited. CNN gave him a chance to cover his rump afterwards. Here’s his version of what happened:
He told CNN he was waiting in the spin room for the debate to end but there was no place to sit. He claimed he saw an area upstairs and was not stopped when he walked up there. He said he saw a bar area and asked if it was an open bar. Told that it was, he ordered a wine and a water. He then said he was approached by a man and asked if he was invited to the party. Alterman said he asked for the man’s name because he had been treated “brusquely”. He said the man declined to give his name and called for an officer.
Alterman said he “never raised his voice once” and identified himself as a journalist. When he asked for the police officer’s name, the office threatened to arrest him. Alterman said he asked for a supervising officer to come over and tried to explain the situation. He claims he was cut off and acknowledged he may have been argumentative when he said, “could I please finish a sentence here?”
I’m guessing that’s about 75% of the truth, which is actually pretty good for Alterman. According to the arresting officer he was asked seven times to leave the party. Seven times! Allow me to dramatize what that might look like:
Alterman spots a free bar and heads upstairs to take advantage of it. He gets a drink and someone approaches him:
Party Coordinator: Sir, this is a private, invitation only event, were you invited?
Alterman: Who the hell are you?
PC: Sir, if you don’t have an invitation, I’ll have to ask you to leave.
Alt: Look, I’m Eric Alterman. I write for the Nation. I’m part of Media Matters…
Officer: What seems to be the problem?
PC: This man is not an invited guest but refuses to leave.
Officer: Is that true, sir?
Alt: Look, we don’t have to get all fascist about this.
Officer: Sir, you need to head downstairs. (One)
Alt: Do you people know who I am?
Officer: Sir, I’m asking you again, please head back down the stairs. (Two)
Alt: Look, why can’t we talk about this?
Officer: Sir, are you going to leave or do I need to escort you? (Three)
Alt: I’m press.
Officer: You’re not an invited guest. You’ve been asked to leave. (Four)
Alt: Can I get a word in here? God, you’d think this was the Republican convention.
Officer: This is the last time I’m going to ask you to leave sir. (Five)
Alt: You don’t want to do this.
Officer: Are you refusing to leave, sir? (Six)
Alt: I’m not going anywhere until I talk to your supervisor. I want your name and badge number, pal.
Officer: I can give you those or you can leave before I’m forced to arrest you. (Seven)
Alt: You’re being ridiculous about this.
Officer: Sir, I’ve asked you several times. Since you refuse to comply I have no choice but to arrest you. Please turn around and place your hands behind your back.
I suspect Alterman was a lot more insulting to the cop, but even if he wasn’t seven times is a lot of chances to not be a belligerent jerk. Why doesn’t it surprise me that a leading liberal commentator — whose primary home Media Matters regularly bashes conservatives as unvicil — is actually an obnoxious, self-important schmuck.
Finally, will this get 1/1000th the coverage of the Mel Gibson arrest? Not a chance.