PJ Media

Dem Congressman's Assault on Student Reporter Deserves Censure

Has liberal North Carolina Congressman Bob Etheridge (Democrat, Second District) lost his ever-loving mind?

Read the Big Government story that provides some commentary to go along with the spliced-together video below if you must, but there really isn’t any additional context needed.

The footage clearly shows seventh-term Representative Bob Etheridge walking down a Washington, D.C., street towards two young men want to interview him and who are videotaping the meeting with a pair of cell phone cameras. The introductory text explains that the students are standing outside a fundraiser for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sometime last week.

The student playing the role of primary reporter greets Congressman Etheridge cordially, and asks him if he fully supports President Obama’s agenda.

As the video below shows, Etheridge immediately became irrational and violent, demanding again and again “who are you?” He  claimed, “I have a right to know who you are,” while assaulting the student reporter. Etheridge ripped the first student’s cell phone camera out of his hands, but it kept recording even as the 67-year-old congressman held it.

The second cell phone camera recording the event captured the assault in far more detail.

After the first young man — with fear in his voice — asked Etheridge to let him go, the congressman responded by grabbing him by the back of the neck and jerking the young man toward him, pulling him under his arm, and gripping him tightly around the shoulder. “Who are you?” he demanded again, nose-to-nose with the obviously frightened student.

After the cowering student reporter and cameraman again asked — loudly this time — for Etheridge to let him go, the congressman either regained his senses and finally released him, or the student twisted out of his grasp. Either way, he escaped from the unhinged congressman.

There is little doubt that what we’ve witnessed in this video is a congressmen assaulting an individual for the simple act of politely asking him on a public street if he supports the president’s agenda. If Bob Etheridge had responded in a reasonable manner — either answering the question in some manner or ignoring the student reporters entirely — then there would be no story here. But that wasn’t the  congressman’s response. His response was intimidation and physical violence.

The National Republican Congressional Committee was quick to respond to the video:

Bob Etheridge has lost it. His conduct is unbecoming of a member of Congress. It’s bad enough that he’s joined Obama’s assault on North Carolina jobs, but his physical assault on a college student goes beyond the pale.

Such a vile act by a sitting congressman begs for censure, but do not expect the Democrat-controlled House to push for such a measure. They do not turn upon their own, especially someone who, as the reporter correctly suggested, completely supports the policies of his party’s leaders.

Etheridge finally issued a statement about the assault after the video went viral, saying:

I have seen the video posted on several blogs. I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved. Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina , I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse.

His statement would perhaps have more credibility if he issued it immediately after the incident instead of days later, when the sudden attention of the assault made it no longer possible for him to ignore his crimes. Issued at such a late date in full damage control mode, the Etheridge statement (and his subsequent press conference) may as well read: “I deeply and profoundly regret that my reaction was caught on film and may be used against me in my campaign for reelection.”

Up until this point, Etheridge was favored to keep his seat, but the growing media scrutiny of the congressman’s assault and battery on his flustered victim may be used against him, showing him to be a liberal elitist who feels entitled to resort to violence when questioned about his support of the president’s radical left-wing agenda. Local reaction, as evidenced in the 530+ comments in the thread at WRAL-TV, are running strongly against the incumbent.

The disgraced congressman faces a challenge in November from a member of the medical community infuriated by Etheridge’s support of ObamaCare, a registered nurse and clinical director named Renee Ellmers. Ellmers and her husband, a doctor, attended one of Etheridge’s pro-ObamaCare town hall meetings and became critics of the waste in the Democratic boondoggle and Etheridge’s record of supporting the far left progressive agenda, including ObamaCare and cap-and-trade.

The Ellmer campaign has just released a written statement about the assault:

If a teacher or principal treated a student this way – it would raise serious questions and he would be suspended. This kind of behavior is equally unacceptable in a Congressman. Bob Etheridge needs to make a full, complete and candid public explanation for this behavior. His describing his behavior as “a poor response” is not adequate. Most important of all, Congressman Etheridge should apologize — in person — to the two students.

Etheridge’s violence has brought him the wrong kind of attention, and conservative sites are using the attack to promote Ellmer’s campaign donations page. Ellmers campaign manager Al Lytton confirms there has been a “huge increase in donations coming into the website” as a result of voter disgust with the assault

“Violent Bob” may be on the cusp of knocking himself right out of Congress.