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politics

Conservative Filmmaker Tries To Get Arrested, Succeeds [Updated]

Joshua Sharp

Posted: Apr 17th 2009 6:45PM

Filed under: Politics, Small Campus, Big Story, USC

John Ziegler is an idiot.

The conservative filmmaker/activist managed to get himself arrested Wednesday after trying to rile up opposition to a journalism award given to Katie Couric for her Sarah Palin interview. Now he's pushing a 20-minute video of his antics and subsequent arrest, claiming anti-conservative bias.

As a senior at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, I know almost everyone featured in the video, including the university officials, event organizers and campus police who Ziegler claims "literally abused" him. Not too surprisingly, Ziegler is wildly exaggerating what really happened:

In the days leading up to the event, Ziegler had announced his intention to protest the award. USC provided a gated space near the entrance of the event for demonstrators, but Ziegler and his film crew were the only ones to show up. So Ziegler started calling himself a journalist and demanding full access to the event.

Conveniently enough, a film crew is on hand to document Ziegler's plight, either brought by Ziegler or hired for the occasion. Ziegler, microphone in hand, repeatedly tries to get university officials to say something controversial, pouncing at every opportunity and offering slanted commentary to the camera.

Meanwhile, Zeigler still refuses to move to the area provided for visiting demonstrators, ten feet away. After putting up with Ziegler for nearly an hour, campus police tell Ziegler that he's made his point and is no longer welcome on campus. Of course, the university is well within its rights; Ziegler is standing on private property.

Ziegler cries foul and resists arrest, grunting, "You guys realize you're breaking all sorts of constitut-- I'm not gonna move!"

He's promptly escorted off campus. Feigning outrage, he went to Greta Van Susteren and Fox News for a softball interview so one-sided that it insults the journalism profession far more than any award.

The Drudge Report did its part by posting a link to the video, and Ziegler's website now reads: "I am simply shocked and horrified by what happened here, as should every freedom loving American. I did absolutely nothing wrong and I was handcuffed, detained and literally abused by law enforcement at the event."

What a joke.

Yes, the award was silly. But its actual title was "Special Achievement for National Impact on the 2008 Campaign." Though I don't think Couric deserves an award, it's a bit ridiculous to protest Annenberg for recognizing the national impact of the Couric interviews. Let's remember, Palin botched interviews on plenty of other occasions.

As I've said before about Zeigler, claims of liberal bias can usually be substantiated with the facts. As a registered Republican, I'm usually sympathetic to these claims. But Ziegler seems more intent on generating publicity stunts and manufactured outrage than actually serving any legitimate public interest.

It's an embarrassment to fellow conservatives.

* Update: USC Annenberg professor Marc Cooper writes on his personal blog that campus police responded poorly, but Ziegler showed up "hoping to goad the cops into action." Cooper also links to a revealing April 2005 profile of Ziegler in The Atlantic, which confirms some nagging suspicions about Ziegler's mental stability (remember the Nate Silver interview?).

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