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White man accosts black TV reporter doing storm coverage

An angry white man jumped out of his pickup and confronted a black reporter doing a live shot for NBC News from Gulfport, Mississippi, the day after the area was “slammed by Hurricane Ida,” The Hill reported on Monday, August 30, 2021. (Read story here.)

The driver pulled off the road and parked on a grassy beach strip, jumped out of his vehicle, and ran toward the reporter, who saw him and backed away.

The man aggressively approached the reporter, shouting about “accuracy,” before being pulled away by a TV crew member. The reporter kept his cool throughout the threatening encounter.

The man’s identity and motivation are unknown. But there are people in this country who’ve been relentlessly programmed by rightwing propaganda to believe that news organizations put out “fake news.” Given the location (Mississippi), seeing a black TV reporter may have set off the individual. It’s also possible the confrontation was premeditated; i.e., the man was watching the TV news and drove to the scene to take issue with it, although the reporter wasn’t saying anything controversial. We can only guess.

What’s indisputable is this stranger, for whatever reason, took it upon himself to disrupt a news report and interfere with a reporter who was just doing his job. To me, it’s further evidence that our society is becoming less civilized, long-established behavior norms are breaking down, and there’s a large group of immature people out there.

Update (8/31/21): The man, Benjamin Eugene Dagley, is from Ohio, and violated his probation by traveling to Mississippi. Now, he’s charged in that state with assault, disorderly conduct, and violating an emergency order. (Read story here.)

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