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Steve Shannon Staffers Attack Me

By Greg L | 7 October 2009 | Virginia Politics | 29 Comments

What campaign in their right mind would ever try to assault a blogger?

Ken Cuccinelli demostrated pretty conclusively this evening that Steve Shannon lacks competence in what the Attorney General’s office actually does. When asked what divisions there are in the Virginia Attorney General’s office and what those divisions do, Steve Shannon dissembled at length and said the question he was asked was ‘playing a game of gotcha,’ refusing to answer, much to the amusement of the audience. You’d think that someone who was campaigning for a job might understand what that job actually is. You might also think that candidate wouldn’t have staffers start trying to attack anyone who might be interested in filming the questions posed by reporters after the debate. But we’re talking about the Steve Shannon campaign here. They seem to “exceed expectations,” one might say.

After the debate Steve Shannon spoke with supporters and I went up to film him, having filmed the entire debate, figuring it might make for some interesting cut-away shots or just maybe something interesting would happen. Manassas News & Messenger reporter Jonathan Hunley showed up and asked Shannon about the question he evaded, and that qualified as interesting to me. What was even more interesting was the behavior of some folks quite obviously working for the Steve Shannon campaign, who seemed unusually concerned that anyone would be interested in taping the quick interview of their candidate by a reporter representing our local paper.

One Shannon staffer didn’t even wait to find out who I might be before she started jostling me, hitting my camera, and trying to block my shot. Not satisfied that I wouldn’t answer and pollute with my own voice the difficult audio track for the shot, she immeditely started threatening me, shooting her flash into my lens (which could damage a camera at close range) and generally tried to make herself as much of a nuisance as possible. This woman had no idea whether I was working for a news outlet, or whether I was a “tracker” (which I’m not) but seemed so concerned that anyone with an ENG-style shoulder-mount camera similar in appearance to what news crews use would be interested in what Mr. Hunley was discussing with her candidate that she was determined to play a little game of scrimmage with me and then try to harm my equipment. Only I was about a foot and a half taller than she was, so that got difficult for her pretty quickly.

I understand deliberately trying to become a deliberate nuisance at a campaign event. It’s not something undertaken lightly, because if you deliberately act like an ass, it can come back to bite you. You don’t do it with people you don’t know, you don’t do it in a way that would look bad for the campaign, and you do it in a way that doesn’t seem mean-spirited. In this case, they didn’t know who I was, it looks darned spiteful, and was so baldly executed it makes the campaign look like a bunch of petty thugs. If you’re going to annoy someone, you at least smile, look like you’re making honest mistakes, and maintain a friendly (albeit annoying) dialogue instead of a threatening one. Because of the pitfalls of scewing up, I’ve never tried to make myself a pest to the opposition, because it’s too easy to cause problems. It’s just safer to let the potential opposition do what they want and trust your candidate will aquit of themselves well.

These folks apparently didn’t trust Steve Shannon would, even with the friendly News & Messenger. If Steve Shannon’s people were comfortable with how their candidate performed, they wouldn’t feel it necessary to protect their candidate from anyone documenting the candidate’s interactions with the local press. I can imagine a rare few situations where a candidate might not want to get filmed, but in a public venue after a debate has concluded and a mainstream media reporter is asking the candidate a question, is that really a time to start lashing out at a camera and the person running it, especially when you have no idea who that is? That sounds incredibly desperate to me.

When a campaign starts to agressively and physically disrupt the efforts by the media to document public campaign events, you know they’re not feeling very confident about what they’re doing. Normally, campaigns like to have someone cover what they’re doing. That kind of makes sense, after all. The press helps campaigns, whether that’s traditional media, or new media. The worst thing is for no media to talk about you when you’re running a campaign.

Other than my very brief wrestling match with a member of the Shannon campaign staff, a lot of interesting things happened during this debate. I’ll follow up on them with some additional footage and commentary later, but this by far seems to be the most memorable part of the event for me. I imagine most folks haven’t seen this version of “When Staffers Attack,” as I honestly haven’t seen it ever before myself. I figured modern campaigns just weren’t this stupid.

Steve Shannon’s campaign apparently is. I never would have imagined it to be, as I’ve never heard a bad thing about this guy and a lot of Republicans I know personally like him, but I guess there’s no substitute for personal experience.

UPDATE: Thanks to National Review Online for linking to this post and embedding the video!

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  1. Crystal Clear Conservative said on 7 Oct 2009 at 9:47 pm:
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    Haven’t they heard of the First Amendment…Freedom of the Press? What are Steve Shannon’s staffers so afraid of??

  2. Anonymous said on 7 Oct 2009 at 9:50 pm:
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    If this turns out to be some weak over-hyped nonsense I will be sorely disappointed.

  3. Anonymous2 said on 7 Oct 2009 at 10:26 pm:
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    Get ready to be disappointed. When has Greg not overhyped things?

  4. val said on 8 Oct 2009 at 6:21 am:
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    He doesn’t need to know, he’ll be taking orders from Eric Holder and the white house.

  5. Chris said on 8 Oct 2009 at 6:26 am:
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    It was definately a wipe-out. And what your talking about here Greg is a microcosim of something else in this race: the crowd. All of the Shannon supporters were either labor folks (who left halfway through) or staffers. There were very few just regular citizens who were like, “Damn, Steve Shannon is here? Lets go see him.” Ken has that, the people there weren’t from his campaign.

    I really respect Shannon for his passion on child saftey, internet preditors, et al but thats a legislative attitude, he clearly has no idea how to effectively use this office to meet the goals he wants to attain. And it rings hollow when he continus to use that line over and over as a talking point. It has conviction the fisrt time, but when he says it the fourth time word for word you just shake your head.

  6. MAXIMUS said on 8 Oct 2009 at 6:38 am:
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  7. Anonymous said on 8 Oct 2009 at 8:54 am:
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    Greg, you have got to be kidding me! That’s what you call an attack? A lady half your size bumps you a bit, asks who you’re with, flashes her camera at you, and you claim you were attacked. What a whining bunch of babies we look like. It sounded like Shannon even told the staffer it wasn’t a big dea.

  8. Truth said on 8 Oct 2009 at 8:54 am:
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    This is a joke. What a disappointment.

  9. Anonymous said on 8 Oct 2009 at 9:37 am:
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    I’m stunned that they would do this to someone not knowing at all who it is. I suppose these staffers didn’t want anyone to hear what Steve Shannon said to a reporter. Unbelievable.

  10. Casanova Frankenstein said on 8 Oct 2009 at 9:51 am:
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    So, why does Shannon want to be Attorney General if he doesn’t even know what the office does? (Cooch’s question was about more than just bureaucracy, it goes to the heart of the AG’s job.) THAT is the big takeaway from this video…

  11. Johnson said on 8 Oct 2009 at 10:16 am:
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    Liberal punks, using grade school bullying and stupid tricks. Smaks of desperation for the Shannon campaign.

  12. How we treat them vs. how they treat us said on 8 Oct 2009 at 10:25 am:
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    To Anon 8:54am and Truth, this is not a joke! I was recently at an event with Ken Cuccinelli and Bob McDonnell where the Fraternal Order of Police was endorsing Cuccinelli, Bolling, and McDonnell and a Shannon person was there with a video camera. Rather than sticking a sign in front of his face and raising my voice saying “Who are you with?” several times I kindly asked him which campaign he was with. He said Shannon’s. He stayed close to Cuccinelli the entire time. No one put cameras in his face, no one blocked his video. He filmed the entire event. Ken and Bob were AWESOME that day! So if we are respectful of their people all over our guys why can’t they do the same????

  13. Anonymous said on 8 Oct 2009 at 11:14 am:
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    Weak, over-hyped nonsense.

    That’s disappointing.

  14. Casanova Frankenstein said on 8 Oct 2009 at 11:33 am:
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    How we treat them vs. how they treat us —

    If they were respectful of others the way we are of them, they wouldn’t be Democrats. Being a Democrat is the most selfish act a person can do. It is all about getting as much from the government as you can or else about using the government to assuage one’s guilt over winning life’s lottery. This behavior is just symptomatic of their ideology.

  15. Rick Sincere said on 8 Oct 2009 at 3:41 pm:
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    Steve Shannon demonstrates — as most candidates for Attorney General in recent years have done — that he does not understand the nature of the office he seeks.

    Shannon, like the others (including Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell in 2005), thinks that the state Attorney General is the chief prosecutor for Virginia. The AG doesn’t prosecute crimes. When the Attorney General is made aware of the possibility of a crime, he (or she) must refer the matter to a Commonwealth’s Attorney, or to federal law enforcement,

    The Attorney General is more like a City Attorney or County Attorney than a Commonwealth’s Attorney. Shannon does not seem to know this. Ken Cuccinelli does.

  16. Statistics said on 8 Oct 2009 at 3:43 pm:
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    Where does Steve Shannon get his figure that there are 19,357 pedophiles in Virginia using computers to traffic in child porn?

    If you take this number and the population of Virginia (as of Jul 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division), which is 7,769,089, you come up with a figure of one pedophile per 401 residents of Virginia.

    I find that very difficult to believe, so, I question where this figure that Steve Shannon cites comes from.

  17. Harold B said on 8 Oct 2009 at 3:45 pm:
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    Shannon looked like a robot who was told just go and run for the office and we will take care of the rest of what needs to be taken care of I. E. votes etc.

    He didn’t ask them to stop running interference for him he looked like he was encouraging them with his twisting and turning all the while the wimp was still avoiding the question because it was apparent HE DID NOT KNOW THE ANSWER!!!!!!!!!!

    Typical of someone who is “under orders to just run”

    He reminds me of “hit and run” Connally, just what we need another dope like him.

    What a coward and a sissy.

  18. Statistics said on 8 Oct 2009 at 3:46 pm:
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    Would not be surprised to find out that the answer is that it’s something like 19,357 IP addresses we think might be in Virginia because they belong to companies headquartered in Virginia.

  19. Not SPLC said on 8 Oct 2009 at 4:28 pm:
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    Can you get rid of the background noise so that we can hear what he is saying to the reporter? Shannon’s opening and closing statements were exactly the same. I got tired of hearing the same thing over and over from him. And after the first time, who cares about the numbers he kept spitting out?

  20. Anonym said on 8 Oct 2009 at 4:40 pm:
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    Not to change topics or anything–well, yes, actually–but I got Jeanette Rishell’s latest fllyer in the mail today. Turns out she has a “winning solution for our traffic problems” that will get those kids to their soccer game faster. Front page shows kids scrambling into a minivan parked on a field, with the caption, “They spend more time driving to the game than playing in it.” Inside shows completely different kids playing near the minivan ON THE EXACT SAME FIELD, while Rishell chats with fellow Unity in the Community member Illana Naylor, whom we are pretty sure does not have children anywhere near that young. And we’re not sure what kind of traffic that van had to run into when it didn’t have to go anywhere at all, apparently.

    Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy Jeanette. Do you really think we’re anywhere near as dumb as you are?

  21. Greg L said on 8 Oct 2009 at 4:42 pm:
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    Sure I can. It’ll cost about $500 to send this out for audio post-processing, and the likely result is that it’ll sound like Shannon is talking inside some sort of spaceship, but you’ll be able to understand him more easily.

    I take credit cards, checks and good-ol American cash.

  22. I'm just saying... said on 8 Oct 2009 at 5:28 pm:
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    Assault is a crime. If they assaulted you, you should press charges. Holding people accountable for their actions is how we maintain a civil society. The fact this gentlemen would like to be our Attorney General makes pressing charges even more important… to make a point.

  23. Freedom said on 8 Oct 2009 at 5:36 pm:
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    Smiling at Greg’s last comment….we hear ya, Greg…:)

    Again though, “Harry, the “fired one,” where are you”?

  24. Howard the Duck said on 8 Oct 2009 at 7:08 pm:
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    Them liberal gals are desperate for real man. :)

  25. Greg L said on 8 Oct 2009 at 11:37 pm:
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    Best of my inbox this evening:

    “Just had to tell you this: I find it terribly ironic that, when there’s all these people who claim to not like you, the people who actually hassled you last night were those who didn’t know who you were…”


  26. Bryan said on 9 Oct 2009 at 9:25 am:
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    First of all, the person flashing the camera wasn’t a staffer for Shannon. She might support his candidacy, but I know for a fact she’s not a staffer. That being said, I’ll admit that her behavior was a little childish and she should have known that her behavior wouldn’t help. Steve seems to have understood this as when she was asking you who you were he looked over and said something to the effect of “It’s okay, he’s just filming.”

    But while I’ll agree that you’re correct in pointing out that the behavior is childish, I think it’s a bit of a stretch to claim that you were attacked. People from both sides of the aisle frequently try to prevent bloggers and trackers from the other side from getting footage of their candidate. They could have been more mature about the situation, like Steve himself was encouraging them to do by simply letting you film, but these kinds of tactics have been used for years and it’s simply silly for you to claim you were attacked.

  27. Johnson said on 9 Oct 2009 at 9:40 am:
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    HWTTVHTTU-see my posting, directly before yours. Therein lies the answer.

  28. Pat.Herve said on 9 Oct 2009 at 11:02 am:
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    it is just tit for tat. This side says they are bamboozled, that side says unfair. Bolling will not allow debate clips to be used in advertisements, Deeds is afraid to say he would raise taxes for transportation -

    It is because, we do not honestly listen to anyone anymore - we (and the journalists, and the networks) take the sound bite and craft it to where it fits the time slot alloted, err, the view that the person is trying to make.

  29. Obamaiscarter said on 16 Oct 2009 at 4:03 pm:
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    Hahaha, it is hilarious to read comments on this site defending the boorish behavior of the obscenely ugly troll-looking woman with the camera by claiming the blogger is the one over-reacting. I think you people have it a little backwards.

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