Saturday, September 06, 2008

Don't mess with guys with badges

As I've said before, I always feel like I'm doing something noble when I have to defend my First Amendment rights.

In this case, it was hardly worth having to defend.

Our small town airport now has direct flights to Vegas. And with 150 seat planes, it's a real flight on a real plane, not some puddle jumper.

So when the first flight was leaving, I made sure to shoot generous amounts of what we in the business call b-roll. A-roll is your interviews, and primary stuff. B-roll is what fills in a TV news story. And who knows when I'll be able to see this many people getting on a plane here again.

So I needed it for file video.

I walked right up to the counter, as I've done before, and got shots of people checking their bags. I should point out, when you walk in the door to the airport, you're basically at the counter. It'[s not big.

I made some small talk with the TSA agents about the fact that it was a busy day for them, considering we haven't even had an airline here in months. I grabbed about a 10 second shot of them picking up a suitcase, and went on with the people in line.

At this point, some TSA guy came me the business about that was private property and I couldn't be there. When I had to remind him it's a taxpayer funded airport, and I sure could. He wanted me to "erase" my tape, whatever that meant. So I told him I'd back off and went back to the passengers in line.

At which point some guy whips a badge out of his pocket and asks me to come with him. He told me it could be a threat to national security to show the TSA screeners on TV.

It was so blown out of proportion. The screeners stand at the counter in plain sight. There's no screen, no visual deterant. And I got one 10 second shot just to cover my bases, that would probably never even been shown.

Maybe I was just charged up because of the reporters arrested in Denver and St. Paul, but I don't appreciate being lectured by government types. If they're really worried about terorrists finding out how they screen luggage, why wouldn't they do it behind a wall?

Is there really a need to flash a badge? Just ask me not to do it. Local cops do that all the time. They'll explain why they don't want something shown, and I won't show it. Often that's something like an undercover cop attending an awards ceremony. They don't want his face getting on TV because it could compromise his safety. I get that.

So that's my rant for today. I'm not a pushy reporter. Not by a long shot. But I will defend my rights.

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