VA returns seized recording to WAMU


WAMU-FM DC reports The Department of Veterans Affairs is conducting an official review of why its workers confiscated the equipment of and detained WAMU reporter David Schultz after he spoke to a vet at a public meeting (4/13/09 RBR #71).

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has ordered a top to bottom review of last week’s incident in which VA guards confiscated the equipment of and detained WAMU 88.5 reporter David Schultz. The incident happened when Schultz tried to interview a veteran at a town hall meeting at D.C.’s VA hospital. The VA agreed late Friday to return the device to WAMU without any conditions attached for its use.

As David Schultz reports, the incident sparked a national discussion over freedom of the press and a patient’s right to privacy.

“We want to do a top-to-bottom review in order to learn what happened, why it happened, and what lessons can be learned from the experience,” VA spokeswoman Katie Roberts said in a statement. “We need to grow from this incident in order to determine how we can better provide media access while supporting the privacy of our Veterans.”

The internal investigation will explore the actions taken by security guards and hospital public affairs officer Gloria Hairston, who confiscated the sound card from David Schultz’s digital recorder during a town hall meeting at the hospital Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Barbara Cochran President, Radio-Television News Directors Association, fired off a letter to The VA condemning the act. Read it here.